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Remembering Yukio Mishima:
January 14, 1925–November 25, 1970

685 words

Spanish translation here

Yukio Mishima was one of the giants of 20th-century Japanese literature. He has exercised an enduring influence on the post-World War II European and North American New Right. In commemoration of his birth, I wish to draw your attention to the following works on this website:

By Mishima:

About Mishima:

I also recommend watching Paul Schrader’s beautiful and moving dramatic portrait Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, now available in a stunning new edition from the Criterion Collection.

Many English translations of Mishima’s writings are available, but not all of his books are worth reading. I recommend beginning with The Sound of Waves, his most naive, charming, and popular novel. Those drawn to his studies of nihilism should read The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (the latter is partly dramatized in Schrader’s Mishima). The best collection of Mishima’s stage works is My Friend Hitler and Other Plays. (My Friend Hitler is about the Röhm purge.) Mishima’s most important autobiographical work is Confessions of a Mask. (Sun and Steel also falls in this category, but should be read after Confessions.) Mishima’s philosophy of life and death is found in his Way of the Samurai, a commentary on the Hagakure.

Starting in the late 1950s, Mishima also dabbled in acting and directing. In 1966, he directed and starred in a 30 minute film adaptation of his short story “Patriotism,” about the ritual suicide of a military officer after a failed coup. (Also a theme of Mishima’s 1969 novel Runaway Horses.) After Mishima’s death, the film of Patriotism was withdrawn by his widow, but after she died, it was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection.

Mishima’s charismatic performance as a swaggering tough guy in Masumura Yasuzo’s entertaining 1960 gangster movie Afraid to Die is available on DVD. He also appears as a human statue in Black Lizard, a movie so weird and wonderful that it is worth seeking out on VHS. (It highly deserves a DVD release.) Black Lizard is based on a play by Mishima, but I was unable to determine how faithfully it follows the original.

There is very little good secondary literature on Mishima. I can recommend Henry Scott Stokes’ biography The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Mishima: A Vision of the Void, and Roy Starrs’ Deadly Dialectics: Sex, Violence, and Nihilism in the World of Yukio Mishima.Yourcenar and Starrs deal with Mishima in relation to philosophy and religion, and although the theses and arguments of both authors strike me as confused, they still manage to ferret out a lot of interesting information.

In 2013, Naoki Inose’s massive Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima appeared in English. This exhaustively researched volume will probably stand for a long time as the definitive work on Mishima. It contains too much information for the casual reader, but for Mishima fans like me, it is essential reading, filled with detailed and tantalizing accounts of Mishima’s many untranslated writings, fiction and non-fiction, inlcuding his many political statements. For the first time, it is possible for people who do not speak Japanese to gain a clear and detailed picture of Mishima’s politics.

Finally, I want to recommend a little-known website by an important Counter-Currents writer: Jack Donovan’s Headless God: A Tribute to Yukio Mishima.

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5 Comments

  1. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 16, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    My point about Kwaidan (a collection of supernatural tales, collected by Lafcadio Hearn, or Koizumi Yakumo in the 19th century, if he hadn’t collected them, most would have been lost, and the Kwa vs. Ka reflects a change in Japanese orthography under the new Imperial govt.) is that, except for a few art and puppet animations, it is about the only work that matches Schrader’s magnificent realisations of the scenes from Mishima’s novels.

    It is not as stagey, as in the sets are less obvious, instead, almost everything is at close range.

    If you have not seen and track down a copy of the 1965 version, it is really wonderful. The more recent take, really bad.

    I was wanting to post a link to a song by what was then a heavily sample-dependent half-industrial, half-rock band, ‘No Mishima No Future’, a good piece, in a way true, I still have my copy, but can find no link to it. As too many others, they moved to faescesbook, eventually annoyed by the policies, then twatter only. Used to have a site with a lot of great collages, and downloads of their punk/industrial/nationalist pieces, now just a Twat feed.

    The leader (a friend) transformed them into playing punk-rock songs as traditional festival music.

    Also is (or was) running retreats on Japanese pride. I was invited, but too much work at the time, and people don’t have to try to extend it, something of a fascistic attitude is the norm among intelligent people apart from very aged extreme leftists, even the centre of one of the famous Trot. groups seems to have become completely inactive, they still own the building, but appear inactive.

    Mishima’s political misinterpretation by the stupid leftists who were dominant in the time of his early fame amuses me.

    That nobody worked it out until his last action is stupid.

    Mishima was quite explicit about disliking gay westerners in Confessions of a Mask.That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t essentially a male homosexual, just that at heart he was a bitchy Japanese male homosexual, at least in that dimension of his life. .

    The manoeuvres the press goes through originate from his now deceased wife (the Schrader film was banned for many years, because Mishima’s wife and some pols and bureaucrats didn’t like it (well, the majority of those groups), his children, also some of the former Tatenokai were very influential, suppose most are too old now, and that is a verboten topic.

    One of the old fascist parties (never having power, mainly useful to divert people from the Communist Party, but some influence on economic and social policy, the Production Party, named so to make characters similar to Communist Party) was still holding Mishima suicide commemoration and memorial meetings and posting flyers near my home, but it seems to have ended about ten years ago.

    Those people were Pacific War gen., and, as far as I was able to see, while they were trying to influence from their tiny party branch (and were influencing the ‘Liberal Democratic Party’, because of living in the same areas and having similar aims), they were never even trying to recruit younger people.

  2. Gnome Chompsky
    Posted January 15, 2019 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I had a more elaborate reply.

    Had to throw out my rubbish IRL, I am scrupulous abt. the days, which, which days.

    Less elaborate

    The theatrical suicide of Mishima (not his real name) was pretty disastrous.

    He and Morita are widely said to acted on a doomed love suicide idea .

    Mishima failed to do seppuku well, and Morita failed to do the coup de tete well.

    I see memorial meetings, on a ward hall, they have giant portraits of both outside.

    Schrader’s film is non-pareil, the backdrops are non-realistic, but you are a fool not to see that they are pretty standard for Kabuki and No not to say that that Schrader did not do it to the better level than ever. I

    Kaidan, Kwaidan, the old movie, from the 1960s, everybody wants to see it ,and cannot say that is the same as remake, a pile of vomit.

    The remake is so bad, nobody wants to watching it

  3. Hubert Collins
    Posted January 14, 2019 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    A great place to start, if you don’t know much about the guy, is this wonderful rundown of the man by Justin Raimondo for Takimag:

    https://www.takimag.com/article/mishimapaleocon_as_samurai/#axzz4yMj1tFWh

  4. J. Goodlow
    Posted January 14, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    A novel of his was recently released in an English translation for the first time: https://heathenharvest.org/2018/11/25/the-frolic-of-the-beasts-by-yukio-mishima-available-in-english-for-the-first-time/

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant news. The Penguin Publishing company are releasing ‘Frolic of the beasts’ and ‘Star’ on the 4th of April 2019, and also releasing ‘Life for sale’ on the 1st of August 2019. Hopefully they update and republish the rest of his books which they released in the 70’s and 80’s.

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