Yukio Mishima (Critical Lives) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2014/12/15
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Flanagan argues that Mishima was a man obsessed with the concepts of time and emperor,” and reveals how these were at the heart of his literature and life. Untangling the distortions in the writer’s memoirs, Flanagan traces the evolution of Mishima’s attempts to master and transform his sexuality and artistic persona. While often perceived as a solitary protest figure, Mishima, Flanagan shows, was very much in tune with postwar culturehe took up bodybuilding and became a model and actor in the 1950s, adopted the themes of contemporary political scandals in his work, courted English translators, and became influenced by the student protests and hippie subculture of the late 1960s. A groundbreaking reevaluation of the author, this succinct biography paints a revealing portrait of Mishima’s life and work.
"Part of the originality of Flanagan's latest work rests in its approach to time, the author contending that a unique approach to the temporal was a key factor in Mishima's life and death. . . . Flanagan's stylishly written literary biography comes closer than most to understanding the enigma of Yukio Mishima." --Japan Times
"An excellent introduction to Mishima's life and work . . . Flanagan provides deft plot summaries and sensitive readings of Mishima's fiction and deploys a wide array of Japanese sources currently unavailable in English, producing a rich portrait of this very strange and complicated man." --Gay and Lesbian Review
"A fine introduction to the life and times of Yukio Mishima, the most internationally acclaimed Japanese author and playwright of the twentieth century. . . . Flanagan is willing to tread where others have been more guarded and pulls few punches while analysing Mishima's character. . . a thoughtful and engaging re-evaluation. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Mishima, Japanese literature, modern history, psychology, and queer studies." --Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
"For the Japanese, Mishima and his beliefs were 'grotesque anachronism.' . . . This biography demonstrates, however, that aspects of Mishima's life deserve celebration: his command of the language, his development of a Japanese drama, short story, and the confessional genre, . . . and his dovtion to and attempt to capture beauty--both in person and in writing."--Times Literary Supplement
The author demystifies Mishima by tearing off Mishima’s self-constructed façades of lies to investigate the significance of him as a real person.
The author portrays the socio-psychological aspects of Japanese post-war society - which still echo in Japan today - very convincingly. As a Japanese person, the book reminded me vividly of the suppressed anger, denial, disguised identity and deep sense of failure borne by my late father, a member of Mishima’s generation.
The 'Mishima incident’ always seemed to me to be Mishima pointing his finger at a phantom, the hidden scars of Japan's wartime generation. Thanks to this book, I am now one step closer to understanding the legacy of my father’s generation in contemporary Japan.
It’s hard to think of Mishima at the end of his life as anything other than crazy, but Flanagan’s detailed portrait of him helps to explain the reasons for this in addition to depicting the fascinating manifestations of Mishima’s mindset late in his life.
Early on Flanagan writes: “What makes Mishima such a fascinating subject is that he represented in his own person the intense psychological traumas of the whole sweep of modern Japanese history, its precipitate caesuras and volte-faces under intense external pressures that produced a deep sense of cultural schizophrenia.” That’s quite a lot for one person to represent, yet Flanagan gives highly readable examples throughout this biography to show the truth of the statement.
The parts of Mishima’s life and work that are shared and expounded on are well worth the reader’s time, as is the act of re-reading so many of them. Flanagan is an excellent writer who knows how to deliver on a stunningly led life – the life of one of last century’s most talented authors, and a modern-day super-man on the scale of D’Annunzio, Hemingway, and perhaps a handful of others.
I highly recommend Flanagan’s Mishima.
If you already know the basics about Mishima, you won’t find anything new here. And although the author keeps telling us how “acclaimed” Mishima’s novels were, he has nothing interesting to say about them. He is too concerned with trivia: Mishima’s high school watch, his bossy nana, how come he didn’t win the Nobel prize, etc. The author’s writing style is too sensationalist ("International literary superstar!" “The Day of Death!” “The Orgy of Blood!”) and his analysis is just shallow.
But it turns out, that's not surprising. In a note at the end of the book, the author suddenly confesses: “Most of the research for this book was conducted in a coffee shop in Manchester.” Oh come on.