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The title is pretty straight-forward: it is an almost autobiographical confession of a closet homosexual struggling with social restrictions, a nasty World War, and his own mental delusions. I have to admit that I have a certain bias for Mishima. He is one of my favorites. It was morbidly reflective, with the character describing in the most unlikable style possible how he developed a certain liking for strength, death, and naked guys tied-up to a tree.
The narrator was not gifted with a god-like physique. In fact he was far from being considered healthy, a thing which may have led to his obsession for perfection.
It was disturbing. The cute thing is the very realism of these morbid thoughts. Every nasty and filthy detail was not deliberately machinated to be cringing like some shock rock artsy-fartsy gimmick. And yes, I remember participating in that sort of game when I was in second year high school. While the narrator named Kochan is struggling with his latent homosexuality, it is apparent that Kochan is not at all acquiescent with his own homosexual nature. In these kinds of instances we may easily sense the traditionalist politics Mishima is trying to infuse in his works.
While the protagonist itself is gay, he dislikes gays and the idea of gayness. In fact he worships the glory of manhood and nobility of manly death. In a time when sex has become a dominating aspect of his personality, he attempts to liquidate his filthy thoughts and still strive to conform to the backward and misogynist culture of imperial Japan.
Kochan attempts to stabilize a relationship with a woman, albeit in a very awkward, horror-filled and self-denying way. So much for the good stuff. One thing that I disliked from the book is its lack of consistency. Some scenes and sequences are interesting, tension-gripped. But some are just outright boring. I was tempted a lot of times to skip a couple of pages. Many of them are uncalled-for. Also, in many an instance Mishima is somewhat repetitive.
Maybe not too refined. I would suggest his Sea of Fertility tetralogy. I have enough of morbidness to last me a lifetime. Natsuo Kirino has a penchant for this topic, death and gruesome killings.
I nearly throw up while reading one of her novels. And so far, all these Japanese novels I have read, they always explored death as if it is in vogue. Gore is one of my guilty pleasures, hehe. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. Not bad, but not too enjoyable.
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Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask
Confessions of a Mask is a deeply personal, truly confessional book, as the title implies. It feels less like you are reading a novel than the protagonist's diary. My guess is that the first person Rather complicated and sophisticated psychological turmoil of an adolescent gay narrator. Difficult to relate to sometimes, beautiful and moving at others. Magnificent nature evocations, chilling ending.
Confessions of a Mask
Admired as both prose writer and poet, he has until now been represented in this country by translations of one novel, "Sound of Waves," and a collection of five modern No plays. This book will increase American awareness of his skill; but it will also, I imagine, arouse in many readers as much distaste as respect. Like a number of other postwar Japanese novels, this extraordinary narrative, translated into fluent English by Meredith Weatherby, is the story of a lost soul. The younger and middle generations of Japanese writers find themselves, in Matthew Arnold's now hackneyed but pertinently descriptive words, Wandering between two worlds, one dead, The other powerless to be born. Cut off suddenly from the life-giving traditions of their national past, they have not yet been able to find spiritual nourishments in the Western culture that has been thrust upon them.
Mishima's weakling in a world of military machismo in 'Confessions of a Mask'
A Japanese teenager is overcome with longing for his male classmate. He imagines his body punctured with arrows, like the body of St Sebastian in the painting that obsesses him. Over and over again, each night in his private fantasies, the objects of his lust are tortured, killed and maimed. But, in the rigid world of imperial wartime Japan there is no place for such transgressive desires. He must wear a false mask and hide his true nature, whatever the cost. Mishima is lucid in the midst of emotional confusion, funny in the midst of despair.
First published in , it launched him to national fame though he was only in his early twenties. The protagonist is referred to in the story as Kochan, which is the diminutive of the author's real name: Kimitake. His isolation likely led to his future fascinations and fantasies of death, violence, and same-sex sex. Kochan is homosexual,  and in the context of Imperial Japan he struggles to keep it to himself. In the early portion of the novel, Kochan does not yet openly admit that he is attracted to men, but indeed professes that he admires masculinity and strength while having no interest in women. This includes an admiration for Roman sculptures and statues of men in dynamic physical positions.