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A Biography of Yukio Mishima
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Naoki Inose
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A critical biography of a modern Japanese literary giant, whose brilliant career ended in a spectacular ritual suicide.

Yukio Mishima (b. 1925) was a brilliant writer and intellectual whose relentless obsession with beauty, purity, and patriotism ended in his astonishing self-disembowelment and decapitation in downtown Tokyo in 1970. Nominated for the Nobel Prize, Mishima was the best-known novelist of his time (works like Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion are still in print in English), and his legacy—his persona—is still honored and puzzled over.

Who was Yukio Mishima really? This, the first full biography to appear in English in almost forty years, traces Mishima's trajectory from a sickly boy named Kimitake Hiraoka to a hard-bodied student of martial arts. In detail it examines his family life, the wartime years, and his emergence, then fame, as a writer and advocate for traditional values. Revealed here are all the personalities and conflicts and sometimes petty backbiting that shaped the culture of postwar literary Japan.

Working entirely from primary sources and material unavailable to other biographers, author Naoki Inose and translator Hiroaki Sato together have produced a monumental work that covers much new ground in unprecedented depth. Using interviews, social and psychological analysis, and close reading of novels and essays, Persona removes the mask that Mishima so artfully created to disguise his true self.

Naoki Inose, currently vice governor of Tokyo, has also written biographies of writers Kikuchi Kan and Osamu Dazai.

New York–based Hiroaki Sato is an award-winning translator of classical and modern Japanese poetry, and also translated Mishima's novel Silk and Insight.


Chapter One: The Hometown

Chapter Two: Grandparents and Parents

Chapter Three: The Boy Who Write Poems (1937-1942)

Chapter Four: Azuma Fumihiko

Chapter Five: First Love (1942-1945)

Chapter Six: The Aftermath of the War (1945-1946)

Chapter Seven: A Bureaucrat or a Writer

Chapter Eight: Confessions (1948-1949)

Chapter Nine: Boyfriends, Girlfriends (1950-1951)

Chapter Ten: Going Overseas (1951-1952)

Chapter Eleven: The Girlfriend (1953-1957)

Chapter Twelve: Kinkakuji (1956-1957)

Chapter Thirteen: Overseas Again (1957)

Chapter Fourteen: Marriage (1958-1959)

Chapter Fifteen: Kyoko’s House (1959)

Chapter Sixteen: The 2.26 Incident and Yukoku (1960)

Chapter Seventeen: Assassinations (1960-1963)

Chapter Eighteen: Contretemps (1963-1964)

Chapter Nineteen: The Nobel Prize (1964-1965)

Chapter Twenty: The Shimpuren (1966-1967)

Chapter Twenty-One: “The Way of the Warrior is to die” (1967)

Chapter Twenty-Two: Passage to India (1967)

Chapter Twenty-Three: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement (1968)

Chapter Twenty-Four: Sun and Steel (Mid-1968-Early 1969)

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Shield Society and Counterrevolution

Chapter Twenty-Six: The Yakuza

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Yangming Philosophy and Revolution Chapter Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Constitution

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Toward Ichigaya

Chapter Thirty: The Seppuku