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Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

Confessions of a Mask (original 1948; edition 1958)

by Yukio Mishima (Author)

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2,585425,666 (3.85)79
One of the classics of modern Japanese fiction.
Title:Confessions of a Mask
Authors:Yukio Mishima (Author)
Info:New Directions (1958), Edition: Later Printing, 256 pages
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Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (1948)


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English (34)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Once again, I wasn’t sure how well I was going to like this one at first. Unlike other books I have read by Mishima in the past, this is strict first person — as if written by a person looking back over their life and trying to explain it to the reader. While first person can be more intimate, somehow I felt more distant from the narrator, especially earlier in the book when he is looking back over his childhood.

It in his early adulthood, when the narrator is convincing himself that he is his mask — that what he should want and what he does want are one in the same, that I was finally all in. I found it such a compelling portrayal of that compulsive heteronormativity — that everyone else assumes he is straight and he himself assumes/convinces himself he is straight and the cracks at the seams are getting wider but his circular self-assessments just get tighter. And even the narrator’s occasional admissions of the difference of his desires are so hemmed in by the rigid models of “inversion” — there are only two types of invert, according the authorities of the time, or at least those available to our narrator.

So yes, in the end, I loved this. I am getting more and more curious about reading more about Mishima as a person. I shall have to see if there are any good biographies available. ( )
  greeniezona | Feb 4, 2024 |
Mishima is famous for all the wrong reasons - mainly as a fascist who committed seppuku after a failed military coup - but he's also famous for frequenting Nichome, strenuously denied by his widow, of course. A fascinating character, nonetheless, and this is the first of his books that I've gotten around to reading.

As per the above, this particular novel about a boy dealing with dark sadistic sexual fantasies about other boys comes across as semi-autobiographical, although there's strictly no evidence of such. Certainly Mishima was familiar with putting on a mask, or public face.

It's also a good look at war-time Japan, incidentally.

The translation was a bit strained at times - for instance, I could see the translator struggling to come up with an idiomatic translation of Japanese set phrases like 'ittekimasu' that have no equivalent in English. At another point, the text mentions "H. prefecture near Osaka" and I just wondered why they didn't write "Hyogo". Perhaps when the book was translated in the 50s they didn't think people would be able to handle all the foreign names, a trend that I think has changed since then. I guess I'd read it in Japanese, but my level - and patience to read all the kanji - is still a bit too low for that.

I was a bit disappointed that the main character didn't end up with a guy, and spent most of the second half of the book half-heartedly pursuing a woman. But I guess he was meant to be tortured, or something. ( )
  finlaaaay | Aug 1, 2023 |
  fleshed | Jul 16, 2023 |
penning a mishima takedown saying he doesn't let his queer characters be queer ( )
  bluestraveler | Aug 15, 2022 |
Egyszeri esemény ez a könyv az önéletrajzi írások között, azt hiszem. Tele van kibékíthetetlennek tűnő minőségekkel, amelyek itt mégis harmonikus egésszé állnak össze. Egyik oldalon a szenvedély, a vér és a férfitest iránti elfojtott vágy, a másik oldalon pedig az önelemzés mélysége és megrázó őszintesége. Egyik oldalon a hideg tárgyilagosság, a másik oldalon a már-már haiku-számba menő, tökéletességig csiszolt képek. Leginkább egy lenyűgöző borostyán ékkőre emlékeztet, aminek a közepében valami rettentő, rút ősrovart rejt a zárvány. ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
"In 'Confessions of a Mask' a literary artist of delicate sensibility and startling candor, has chosen to write for the few rather than the many."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Ben Ray Redman (Sep 14, 1958)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mishima, Yukioprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilzheimer, HelmutÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weatherby, MeredithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it never has and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Within beauty both shores meet and all contradictions exist side by side. I'm not a cultivated man, brother, but I've thought a lot about this. Truly there are mysteries without end! Too many riddles weigh man down on earth. We guess them as we can, and come out of the water dry. Beauty! I cannot bear the thought that a man of noble heart and lofty mind sets out with the ideal of the Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom. What's still more awful is that the man with the ideal of Sodom in his soul does not renounce the ideal of the Madonna, and in the bottom of his heart he may still be on fire, sincerely on fire, with longing for the beautiful ideal, just as in the days of his youthful innocence. Yes, man's heart is wide, too wide indeed. I'd have it narrower. The devil only knows what to make of it! but what the intellect regards as shameful often appears splendidly beautiful to the heart. Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, most men find their beauty in Sodom. Did you know this secret? The dreadful thing is that beauty is not only terrifying but also mysterious. God and the Devil are fighting there, and their battlefield is the heart of man. But a man's heart wants to speak only of its own ache. Listen, now I'll tell you what it says....
First words
For many years I claimed I could remember things seen at the time of my own birth.
My hands, completely unconsciously, began a motion they had never been taught.
From that time on I was in love with Omi.
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One of the classics of modern Japanese fiction.

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Yukio Mishima's second published novel, the shocking and provocative [Confessions of a Mask], launched him to literary stardom at the age of 24.
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