Yukio Mishima (Critical Lives)

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Mishima's intense self-discipline resulted in his practice of writing from midnight until dawn. His first novel was the partly autobiographical Confessions of a Mask ; this novel was a popular and critical success and allowed him to become a full-time author.

Mishima was not content with the sedentary life of an author, and took up weight training and began working out regularly and intensely in the last fifteen years of his life. He was also remarkably skilled at kendo. He enlisted in the Ground Self Defense Force and underwent basic training, later forming the Tatenokai Shield Society , a private army of young students who studied martial arts and discipline and vowed to protect the Emperor.

Yukio Mishima (Critical Lives)

As he aged, his brand of nationalism was disavowed by Japanese leftists as well as mainstream nationalists; the former did not approve of his adherence to the code of the samurai, while the latter did not appreciate his criticism of Hirohito. Mishima is widely known for his flamboyant suicide and failed coup on November 25th, This was also the day he completed the last volume of the Sea of Fertility tetralogy; he handed the copy to his publisher that morning.

That day Mishima and four members of the Shield Society took over the Ichigaya Camp, the Self Defense Forces' military headquarters in Tokyo, and after giving a speech to the soldiers gathered below a balcony that railed against the Americanized Japanese constitution and implored the JSDF to rebel and protect Japan's traditions and culture, he committed seppuku , ritual suicide. Flanagan argues that Mishima was a man obsessed with the concepts of time and "emperor," and reveals how these were at the heart of his literature and life.

Revealing the many masks of Mishima

Untangling the distortions in the writer's memoirs, Flanagan traces the evolution of Mishima's attempts to master and transform his sexuality and artistic persona. A groundbreaking reevaluation of the author, this succinct biography paints a revealing portrait of Mishima's life and work. We encourage attendees to read the book in advance, but all are welcome to attend regardless. Damian Flanagan is an award-winning author and translator who has written widely on Japanese politics, arts, and society.

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