Yukio Mishima

Article

January 26, 2022

Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫, 'Mishima Yukio'?), pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡公威, 'Hiraoka Kimitake'?) (January 14, 1925 – November 25, 1970), was a novelist and Japanese playwright, world-renowned for novels such as Brazil: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion / Portugal: The Golden Temple 金閣寺 (Kinkaku-ji, 金閣寺?) and Forbidden Colors (禁色, 'Kinjiki'?). He has written over 40 novels, poems, essays and modern Kabuki and Noh plays.

Biography

Origins

Yukio Mishima was the stage name used for Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡公威, 'Hiraoka Kimitake'?), who was born in Japan's capital in 1925, where he had a troubled childhood marked by events that would later heavily influence his literature. As a child he was separated from his parents and went to live with his paternal grandmother, an aristocrat still linked to the Tokugawa Era. The grandmother barely let the child out of her sight, so Kimitake had an isolated childhood. Many biographers of Mishima believe that his interest in Kabuki and his obsession with the subject of death emerged from this period. At the age of twelve Kimitake returned to live with his parents and began writing his first stories. He enrolled in an elite high school in Tokyo. Six years later, he published a short story in a literary magazine that was later edited into a book. His father, a government official, was totally against his literary pretensions. At that time he adopted the pseudonym Yukio Mishima, partly to hide his literary works from paternal knowledge. He was recruited by Japanese forces during World War II, but was left out of the front lines for physical and health reasons. This fact later became a factor of great remorse for Mishima who witnessed the death of his countrymen and lost the opportunity to die a heroic death. Forced by his father, he enrolled at the University of Tokyo where he graduated in law. After graduation he got a promising job at the Ministry of Finance. However, he became so disgusted that he eventually convinced his father to accept his literary career. His father, a rude and disciplinarian guy, would have said that since he was supposed to be a writer, he'd better become the best writer Japan has ever seen.

Beginning of literary career

Mishima was 24 years old when he published Confessions of a Mask (仮面の告白, 'Kamen no Kokuhaku'?), an autobiographically flavored story of a young gay talent who must hide behind a mask to avoid society. The novel eventually achieved tremendous literary success, which propelled Mishima to a state of celebrity and followed through to other publications and translations to become internationally known. Yukio Mishima has been nominated for three Nobel Prizes for literature, the last one being awarded to his friend Yasunari Kawabata, who introduced him to Tokyo literary circles in the 1940s. After the publication of Confessions of a Mask, Mishima acquires a more realistic and active posture, trying to leave the fragile and obsessive young man behind. He begins to practice martial arts and enlists in the Japanese Self-Defense Army, where, a year later, he forms the Tatenokai (Armor Society), an extreme right-wing entity made up of young martial arts students who studied Bushido under the discipline and tutelage. from Mishima. He married Yoko Sugiyama in 1958, having a son and a daughter with her. For the last ten years of his life, he acted as an actor in films and co-directed an adaptation of one of his stories.

Attempted coup d'etat and seppuku

On November 25, 1970, Yukio Mishima, accompanied by 4 members of the Tatenokai, surrendered the commander of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces headquarters in Tokyo. He delivered a patriotic speech in an attempt to persuade the soldiers at the barracks to give back to the

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