In Association with Amazon.com

Choose another writer in this calendar:

by name:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

by birthday from the calendar.

Credits and feedback

TimeSearch
for Books and Writers
by Bamber Gascoigne


Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) - Pseudonym for Hiraoka Kimitake

 

Prolific writer, who is considered by many critics as the most important Japanese novelist of the 20th century. Mishima's works include 40 novels, poetry, essays, and modern Kabuki and Noh dramas. He was three times nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. Among his masterpieces is The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1956). The tetralogy The Sea of Fertility (1965-70) is regarded by many as Mishima's most lasting achievement. As a writer Mishima drew inspiration from pre-modern literature, both Japanese and Western. Mishima ended his brilliant literary career by suicide in 1970.

"How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at the age of thirty-eight! His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression. And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more than a fragile barrier separates him from his youth. He is forever hearing with the utmost clarity the sounds of this neighboring domain, but there is no way to penetrate the barrier." (from Runaway Horses, 1969)

Yukio Mishima was born Kimitaka Hiraoka in Tokyo, the son of a government official. Later he changed his name into Yukio Mishima so that his anti-literary father, Azusa, wouldn't know he wrote. The name Yukio can loosely be translated as "Man who chronicals reason." On his father's side Mishima's forebears were peasants, but his ambitious grandfather eventually climbed to the position of the governor of the Japanese colony on the island of Sakhalin. Mishima's mother, Shizue Hashi, came from a family of educators and scholars.

Mishima was raised mainly by his paternal grandmother, Natsu Nagai, a cultured but unstable woman from a samurai family, who hardly allowed the boy out of her sight. During World War II Mishima was excused military service, but he served in a factory. This plagued Mishima throughout his life - he had survived shamefully when so many others had been killed. "I believe one should die young in his age," wrote Mishima's friend, the writer Hasuda, who committed suicide after the war. In February 1944, Mishima received a silver watch from Emperor Hirohito's own hand at the graduation ceremony – "he was splendid, you know, the emperor was magnificent on that day", Mishima later said.

Mishima entered in 1944 Tokyo University, where he studed law, and then worked as a civil servant in the finance ministry for eight months before devoting himself entirely to writing. Mishima's first book, Hanazakari (1944), a pastiche of decorative classical prose, appeared when he was just 19-year-old. In 1946 Mishima met Kawabata Yasunari, who recommended Mishima's stories to important magazines. His first major work, Confessions of a Mask (1949), dealt with his discovery of his own homosexuality. The narrator concludes, that he would have to wear a mask of 'normality' before other people to protect himself from social scorn. Mishima admired Oscar Wilde, of whom he published an essay in 1950.

The largely autobiographical work reflected Mishima's masochistic fantasies. His preoccupation with the body, its beauty and degeneration, marked several of his later novels. Mishima wished to create for himself a perfect body that age could not make ugly. He started body building in 1955 and he also became an expert in the martial arts of karate and kendo. Perhaps preparing for his death, Mishima liked to pose in photographs as a drowned shipwrecked sailor, St. Sebastian shot death with arrows, or a samurai committing ritual suicide. In 1960 he played a doomed yakuza, Takeo, in Yasuzo Masumura's film Karakkaze Yaro (Afraid to Die). At the end Takeo is killed, dying in a stairway. Many of Mishima's later short stories and novels delt with the theme of suicide and violent death.

''Let us remember that the central reality must be sought in the writer's work: it is what the writer chose to write, or was compelled to write, that finally matters. And certainly Mishima's carefully premeditated death is part of his work.'' (Mishima: A Vision of the Void by Marguerite Yourcenar, 1985)

Ai no kawaki (1950, Thirst for Love), written under the influence of the French writer François Mauriac, was a story about a woman who has become the mistress of her late husband's father. Kinkakuji (1956, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion) was based on an actual event of 1950. It depicted the burning of the celebrated temple of Kyoto by a young Buddhist monk, who is angered at his own physical ugliness, and prevents the famous temple from falling into foreign hands during the American occupation. "My solitude grew more and more obese, like a pig." (from Temple of the Golden Pavilion)

The Sound of Waves (1954) has been filmed several times. The story, set in a remote fishing village, tells of a young fisherman, Shinji, who meets on the beach a beautiful pearl diver, Hatsue, the daughter of Miyata, the most powerful man in the village. Hatsue is loved by another young man, Yasuo. Miyata forbids Hatsue to continue seeing Shinji, but when Shinji shows his courage during a storm, he finally gives him and his daughter his blessing. The first film version from 1954, directed by Senkichi Taniguchi, was shot on location in the Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture, home of Japan's famous women pearl divers.

Mishima's reputation in Japan started to decline in the 1960s although in other countries his works were highly acclaimed. This decade and the next have been characterized as something of a Golden Age in the translation of Japanese fiction into English. Donald Keene, who translated several of Mishima's plays and the novel Utage no ato (1960, After the Banquet), developed a lifelong friendship with the author. Kinu to meisatsu (1964, Silk and Insight), which John Nathan politely refused to translate (saying that the "I don't think I could make it work in English"), dealt again lost ideals, but this time the story was set in the world of silk textile manufacturing and was based on a real strike that took place in 1954, at the textile manufacturer Omi Kenshi. The central characters are an old-fashioned factory owner, Komazawa, and a manipulating political operator, Okano. Also After the Banquet, set behind the scene of politics, drew from real-life occurrences and provoked a legal suit for violating privacy.

Mishima was deeply attracted to the patriotism of imperial Japan, and samurai spirit of Japan's past. However, at the same time he dressed in Western clothes and lived in a Western-style house. In 1968 he founded the Shield Society (Tate no Kai), a private army of some 100 youths in uniforms worked on de Gaulle's uniform, who were dedicated to a revival of Bushido, the samurai knightly code of honour. In 1970 he seized control in military headquarters in Tokyo, trying to rouse the nation to pre-war nationalist heroic ideals. His coup d'état was doomed from the beginninbg. On November 25, after failure, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual disembowelment) with his sword within the compounds of the Ground Self-Defense Force. Before he died he shouted, ''Long live the Emperor.'' As he fell on the carpet, he was beheaded by one of his men, acting as a kaishaku, the one who delivers the decapitating sword-blow. After his death, Mishima's wife had the negative of Patriotism (1966) burned, a film in which Mishima played the leading role and committed suicide at the end.

On the day of his death Mishima delivered to his publishers the final pages of Tennin Gosui (The Sea of Fertility), the authors account of the Japanese experience in the 20th century. Mishima based the theme on the Buddhist idea of the transmigration of the soul. The first part of the four-volume novel, Spring Snow (1968), is set in the closed circles of Tokyo's Imperial Court in 1912. It was followed by Runaway Horses (1969), The Temple of Dawn (1970) and Five Signs of a God's Decay (1971). Each of the novels depict a different reincarnation of the same being, Honda, who dies at the age of twenty: first as a young aristocrat, then as a political fanatic in the 1930s, as a Thai princess before and after World War II, and as an evil young orphan in the 1960s. The tennin in the tetralogy's Japanese title refers to a supernatural being Buddhist theology, who has similarities with the Christian angel but who is mortal.

"Just let matters slide. How much better to accept each sweet drop of the honey that was Time, than to stoop to the vulgarity latent in every decision. However grave the matter at hand might be, if one neglected it for long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and someone else would emerge as an ally. Such was Count Ayakura's version of political theory." (From Spring Snow, 1968)

In his plays Mishima showed interest in the traditional Japanese theater and Western themes. His dramas, written for the Western style theatre, include Rokumeikan (1956), which deals with a ball given for the Emperor's birthday, Tenth Day Chrysanthemum (1961), Madame de Sade (1965), an effort to see Marquis de Sade through women's eyes (noteworthy, the real hero of the play never appears on the stage), The Fall of the House Suzaku (1967), and My Friend Hitler (1969). Mishima wrote several Kabuki pieces. His last work, The Moon Like a Drawn Bow, was performed in 1969 at the National Theatre. The play ended with scene of a seppuku. Mishima was considered to be in his time the only living author talented enough to write Kabuki plays in traditional style.

For further reading: The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima by Jerry S. Piven (2004); Mishima: A Biography by John Nathan (2000); The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima by Henry Scott-Stokes (1995); Deadly Dialectics by Roy Starrs (1994); Escape from the Wasteland by Susan Napier (1991); Mishima by Marguerite Yourcenar (1985); Mishima by J. Nathan (1974); The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima by H. Scott-Stokes (1974) - Film: Mishima (1985), directed by Paul Schrader, starring Ken Ogata, narration read by Roy Scheider. A violent kaleidoscope of the author's life. Scenes of Mishima's life shot in black & white, dramatizations of key fictional works in opulent color, photographed by John Bailey, score by Philip Glass. - Suom.: Mishiman näytelmistä on suomennettu mm. Sadannes yö. - See also: Yasunari Kawabata

Selected works:

  • Hanazakari no mori, 1944
  • Misaki nite no monogatari, 1947
  • Yoru no Shitaku, 1947
  • Shishi, 1948 (based on Euripides' Medea)
  • Kataku, 1948 (play)
  • Aya no Tsuzumi, 1948 (play)
  • Kari to emono, 1948
  • Tōzoku, 1948
  • Kamen no kokuhaku, 1949
    - Confessions of a Mask (translated by Meredith Weatherby, 1958)
    - Erään naamion tunnustuksia (excerpt in Shosetsu-antologia, transl. by Kai Nieminen, 1983)
  • Hōseki Baibai, 1949
  • Magun no tsūka, 1949
  • Tōdai, 1950 (play)
    - The Lighhouse (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Ai no kawaki, 1950
    - Thirst for Love (translated by Alfred H. Marks, 1969)
    - film 1966, dir. by Koreyoshi Kurahara, screenplay by Toshiya Fujita, Koreyoshi Kurahara
  • Kantan, 1950 (play)
    - Kantan (in Five Modern No Plays, 1957)
  • Ao no jidai, 1950
  • Kaibutsu, 1950
  • Junpaku no yoru, 1950
  • Seijo, 1951 (play)
  • Kari to emono, 1951
  • Kinjiki; Higyo, 1951-1953 (2 vols.)
    - Forbidden Colours (translated by Alfred H. Marks, 1968)
  • Natsuko no Bōken, 1951
  • Aya no tsuzumi: kindai nōgakushū no uchi ,1952 (play)
    - The Damask Drum (in Five Modern No Plays, 1957)
  • Sotoba komachi, 1952 (play)
    - Sotoba komachi (in Five Modern No Plays, 1957)
    - Sadannes yö (suom. Eija-Elina Bergholm, 1965)
  • Manatsu no shi, 1952
    - Death in Midsummer (translated by Ivan Morris, 1967)
  • Aporo no sakazuni, 1952
  • Higyo, 1952-53
  • Nipponsei, 1952-53
  • Shiroari no Su, 1953 (play)
  • Jigoku Hen, 1953 (play)
    - Hell Screen (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Yoru no himawari, 1953
    - Twilight Sunflower (translated by Shigeho Shinozaki and Virgil A. Warren, 1958)
  • Fukushū, 1954 [Revenge]
  • Koi no miyako, 1954
  • Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami, 1954 (play)
    - The Sardine Seller's Net of Love (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Shiosai, 1954
    - The Sound of Waves (translated by Meredith Weatherby, 1956)
    - Aaltojen pauhu (suom. Irmeli Nykänen, 1960)
    - films: 1954, dir. by Senkichi Taniguchi, starring Akira Kubo, Kyoko Aoyama, Yoichi Tachikawa, Keiko Miya; remade by director Kenjiro Morinaka in 1964, screenplay by Goro Tanada, by Shiro Moritani in 1971, by Katsumi Nishikawa in 1975, and by Tsugunobu Kotani in 1985
  • Wakodo yo yomigaere, 1954 (play)
  • Aoi no ue, 1955 (play)
    - The Lady Aoi (in Five Modern No Plays, 1957)
  • Shizumeru taki, 1955
  • Megami, 1955
  • Seishun o dō ikiru ka, 1955
  • Fuyō no Tsuyu Ōuchi Jikki, 1955 (play)
    - The Blush on the White Hibiscus Blossom (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Shiroari no su, 1956 (play)
  • Kindai nōgakushū, 1956 (plays)
    - Five Modern No Plays (contains Sotoba Komachi, The Damask Drum, Kantan, The Lady Aoi, Hanjo, translated by Donald Keene, 1957)
  • Shi wo kaku shonen, 1956 [The Boy Who Wrote Poetry]
  • Kinkakuji, 1956
    - The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (translated by Ivan Morris, 1959)
    - Kultainen temppeli (suom. Sirpa Kauppinen, 1961)
    - films: Enjo, 1958, dir. by Kon Ichikawa; 1976, dir. by Yoichi Takabayashi, screenplay by Yukio Mishima
  • Rokumei kan, 1956 (play)
    - The Rokumeikan (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
    - film: 1986, dir. by Kon Ichikawa, starring Bunta Sugawara, Ruriko Asaoka, Koji Ishizaka, Kiichi Nakai
  • Kōfuku Gō shuppan, 1956
  • Hanjo, 1957 (play)
    - Hanjo (in Five Modern No Plays, 1957)
    - Hanjo (suom. Tuomas Anhava, 1964)
    - TV drama 1964, prod. Mainostelevisio (MTV), dir. Jyri Schreck & Ere Kokkonen, starring Eija-Elina Bergholm, Pirkko Peltonen, Jarmo Alonen, Tuomas Anhava
  • Busu, 1957 (play)
    - Busu / Sweet Poison (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Daishogai, 1957 (play)
    - Steeplechase (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Bitoku no yoromeki , 1957
    - film: 1957, dir. by Kô Nakahira, screenplay by Kaneto Shindô
  • Mishima Yukio senshu, 1957-59 (19 vols.)
  • Gendai shōsetsu wa koten tari-uru ka, 1957
  • Gakuya de kakareta Engeki-ron, 1957
    - Backstage Essays (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Bara to kaizoku, 1958 (play)
  • Musume gonomi Obitori no ike, 1958 (play)
    - Sash Stealing Pond (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Hashizukushi, 1958
  • Ratai to Isho, 1959
  • Kyōko no Ie, 1959
  • Fudōtoku kyōiku kōza, 1959
  • Rokusei Nakamura Utaemon, 1959 (editor)
  • Yūkoku, 1960
    - 'Patriotism' (in Death in Midsummer and Other Stories, translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent, 1966) / Patriotism (translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent, 1995)
    - film: 1966, dir. by Domoto Masaki, Yukio Mishima, screenplay by Yukio Mishima
  • Yoroboshi, 1960 (play)
    - Yoroboshi: The Blind Young Man (translated by Ted T. Takaya, in Modern Japanese Drama, 1979
  • Nettaiju, 1960 (play)
    - Tropical Tree (in Japanese Quarterly 11, 1964)
  • Ojōsan, 1960
    - film: 1961, dir. by Taro Yuge, screenplay by Kimiyuki Hasegawa
  • Utage no ato, 1960
    - After the Banquet (translated by Donald Keene, 1963)
    - Juhlan jälkeen (suom. Helvi Vasara, 1966)
  • Toka no Kiku, 1961 (play)
  • Suta, 1961
  • Kurotokage, 1961 (play, stage adaptation of Edogwa Rampo's story)
    - The Black Lizard (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, edited by Laurence Kominz, 2007)
    - films: 1962, dir. by Umetsugu Inoue; 1968, dir. by Kinji Fukasaku, starring Akihiro Miwa, Isao Kimura
  • Kemono no Tawamure, 1961
    - film 1964, dir. by Sokichi Tomimoto, screenplay by Kazuro Funabashi
  • Nagasugita haru, 1961
  • Utsukushii hoshi, 1962
  • Ai no shissō, 1962
  • Mishima Yukio gikyoku zenshū, 1962 (plays)
  • Kuro Tokaae, 1962 (play)
    - The Black Lizard (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Nikutai no gakkō, 1963 [School of Flesh]
    - films: 1965, dir. by Ryo Kinoshita, adaptation by Toshirô Ide; L'École de la chair, 1998, dir. by Benoît Jacquot, starring Isabelle Huppert, Vincent Martinez, Vincent Lindon, Marthe Keller
  • Gogo no eikō, 1963
    - The Sailor who Fell from the Grace with the Sea (translated by John Nathan, 1965)
    - Kunnia on katkera juoma (suom. Eeva-Liisa Manner, 1971)
    - film: The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, 1976, dir. by Lewis John Carlino, starring Kris Kristofferson, Sarah Miles, Jonathan Kahn
  • Ken, 1963
    - film: 1964, dir. by Kenji Misumi, screenplay by Kazuro Funabashi
  • Hayashi Fusao ron, 1963
  • Watakushi no henreki jodai, 1964
  • Yorokobi no koto, 1964 (play)
  • Kinu to Meisatsu, 1964
    - Silk and Insight (edited by Frank Gibney, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 1998)
  • Mishima Yukio tampen zenshū, 1964
  • Mikumano mōde, 1965
  • Sado Kōshaku Fujin, 1965 (play)
    - Madame de Sade (translated by Donald Keene, 1967)
    - Markiisitar de Sade (suomentanut Kai Nieminen, 1992)
    - TV drama 1992, Markisinnan de Sade, dir. by Ingmar Bergman, screenplay by Ingmar Bergman, starring Stina Ekblad, Anita Björk, Marie Richardson
  • Erei no koe, 1966
  • Hanteijo daigaku, 1966
  • Mishima Yukio hyōron zenshū, 1966
  • Death in Midsummer and Other Stories, 1966 (translated by G. W. Sargent)
  • Fukuzatsu na kare, 1966
  • Yakaifuku, 1967
  • Suzaku-ke no metsubō, 1967 (play)
    - The Decline and Fall of Suzaku (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Hagakure nyumon, 1967
    - The Way of the Samurai (translated by Kathryn N. Sparling, 1977)
  • Taido, 1967
    - Young Samurai (tr. 1967)
  • Yuya, 1967 (play)
    - Yuya (in Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007)
  • Yoroboshi, 1968
  • Haru no yuki, 1968 (Hōjō no umi / The Sea of Fertility)
    - Spring Snow (translated by Michael Gallagher, 1972)
    - film: 2005, dir. by Isao Yukisada, screenplay by Chihiro Itou, starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yuko Takeuchi, Sosuke Takaoka, Mitsuhiro Oikawa
  • Waga Tomo Hittora, 1968 (play)
    - My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio (transl. by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Taiyō to tetsu, 1968
    - Sun and Steel (translated by John Bester, 1970)
  • Taidan, ningen to bungaku, 1968 (with Mitsuo Nakamura)
  • Wakaki samurai no tame ni, 1968
  • Honba, 1969
    - Runaway Horses (translated by Michael Gallagher, 1973) / (Hōjō no umi / The Sea of Fertility)
  • Bunka bōei ron, 1969
  • Raiō no Terasu, 1969 (play)
    - The Terrace of the Leper King (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Chinsetsu yumiharizuki, 1969 (play)
    - A Wonder Tale: The Moonbow (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Shōbu no kokoro, 1970
  • Yukoku no Genri, 1970
  • Sakkaron, 1970
  • Bunshō tokuhon, 1970
  • Gensen no kanjō, 1970
  • Shōsetsu towa nani ka, 1970
  • Kōdōgaku nyūmon, 1970
  • Aku no Hana, 1970
    - The Flower of Evil: Kabuki (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Akatsuki no Tera, 1970 (Hōjō no umi / The Sea of Fertility)
    - The Temple of Dawn (translated by E. Dale Saunders and Cecilia Segawa Seigle, 1973) 
  • Tennin Gosui, 1971 (Hōjō no umi / The Sea of Fertility)
    - Five Signs of God's Decay / The Decay of the Angel (translated by Edward G. Seidensticker, 1974)  
  • Waga Doshi Kan, 1971
  • Kemono no tawamure, 1971
  • Waga shishunki, 1972
  • New Writing in Japan, 1972 (editor, with Geoffrey Bownas)
  • Zenshū., 1973-76 (36 vols., ed. by Shoichi Saeki and Donald Keene)
  • Acts of Worship: Seven Stories By Yukio Mishima, 1989 (translated by John Bester)
  • Geijutsu dansō, 1995
  • - Backstage Essays (in My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Mishima Yukio, translated by Hiroaki Sato, 2002)
  • Mishima Yukio jūdai shokanshu, 1999
  • Mishima Yukio eigaron shūse, 1999
  • Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays, 2007 (edited by Laurence Kominz)


In Association with Amazon.com


Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008


Creative Commons License
Authors' Calendar jonka tekijä on Petri Liukkonen on lisensoitu Creative Commons Nimeä-Epäkaupallinen-Ei muutettuja teoksia 1.0 Suomi (Finland) lisenssillä.
May be used for non-commercial purposes. The author must be mentioned. The text may not be altered in any way (e.g. by translation). Click on the logo above for information.