Yukio Mishima


December 6, 2021

Yukio Mishima (Japanese: 三島 由 紀 夫?, Mishima Yukio), pseudonym for Kimitake Hiraoka (平 岡 公 威), born January 14, 1925 in Shinjuku, Tokyo and died November 25, 1970 in Tokyo, was a Japanese writer. Mishima mainly wrote novels, but his production also includes short stories and plays, as well as essays. Through his own organization, Sköldsällskapet, Mishima also acted as a political activist with a peculiar form of Japanese nationalism and cultural conservatism as his agenda, and died through seppuku during a failed coup attempt.


Born the son of a Japanese government official, Hiraoka adopted the pseudonym Mishima to hide the writing from his father, who had little left over for literature, and perhaps also for other reasons: his breakthrough book, Unmasking (amen 面 の 告白, Kamen no Kokuhaku) from 1949, deals with his own homosexuality and how he is forced to live "behind a mask" of normality to avoid social stigma. Mishima never came to live openly as a homosexual, but married Yoko Sugiyama in 1958. Together they had a daughter, Noriko (born 1959) and a son, Ichiro (born 1963). Politically, Mishima belonged to a phalanx of the Japanese nationalist right, and in 1968 formed the right-wing extremist traditionalist student movement Tatenokai. On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four followers entered the headquarters of the Japanese self-defense forces, Jieitai, Eastern Command in Tokyo, and backed the regimental commander. Mishima then gave a speech, trying to incite the soldiers to rebel against democracy and restore the empire. After the speech, he withdrew to the regimental commander's office where he committed seppuku (ritual suicide). It has been suggested that the ritual suicide was the primary goal of the action for Mishima, who in his previous production showed strong fascination with the phenomenon. In 1985, the American director Paul Schrader made a popular film about Mishima's life and work called Mishima - a life in four chapters .


Mishima's literary output was extensive, including fifteen novels, four kabuki plays, and a travelogue. In addition to this, he wrote over fifty short stories, ten one-act plays and several volumes of essays. His more famous works include The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (金 閣 寺, Kinkakuji) from 1956, The Sailor Who Disappeared by the Sea (午後 の 曳 航, Gogo no Eiko) from 1963 and the tetralogy Fertility Sea, of which only the first part Spring Snow (春 の 雪, Haru no Yuki) from 1969 is translated into Swedish. Mishima also wrote plays, including Marquis de Sade (Sado Kōshaku Fujin) from 1965 (which was staged by Ingmar Bergman on Dramaten 1989), and essays, in which Sun and Steel (太陽 と 鉄, Taiyō to Tetsu) from 1968 make it most famous example. In addition to this, Mishima also directed a film called Patriotism (憂国, Yūkoku), in which he himself also plays. Mishima was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but without success. Despite his culturally conservative nationalism, Mishima was greatly influenced by Western literature. He was fascinated by Raymond Radiguet's life and work (and not least his death), and Oscar Wilde has been mentioned as another early influence, which is especially noticeable in Kinjiki (禁 色) from 1951. Thomas Mann's influence on Mishima has also been highlighted. Other European writers who influenced Mishima include Georges Bataille, Witold Gombrowicz and Pierre Klossowski. One Japanese writer who has greatly influenced Mishima's writing is Michizō Tachihara.

Bibliography (published in Swedish)

1948 - Unmasking (Kamen no kokuhaku, translation from English by Ulf Gyllenhak, Schultz, 1987) 1954 - The noise of waves (Shiosai, translation from English by Sonja Bergvall, Bonnier, 1965) 1956 - Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji (金 閣 寺), translation from a

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