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Confessions of a Mask Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Trade Paperback Edition edition (January 17, 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081120118X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201186
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mishima's Mask continues to speak to the terrors that come when sexualities are pressed underground.” (Emily Drabinski - Out Magazine)

About the Author

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death in November, 1970), along with more than forty play, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes and hundreds of essays. Influenced by European literature, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan's ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He had sung on the stage, starred in and directed movies and was a noted practitioner of Japan's traditional martial arts. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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It is also an easy read and incredibly insightful and powerful book.
Jon Cruz
Although I have a feeling this book will be hard-pressed to please everyone, for me at least it seems like a great insight into the mind and the works of Mishima.
Charles E. Stevens
Mishima's autobiographical debut novel is a wonderful confessional of imagery and reflection.
Mike

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Stevens VINE VOICE on February 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading other reviews of Confessions of a Mask, I see that many readers are looking at it from a perspective of "gay literature" and seem disappointed that Mishima is not really a supporter of the cause. But from my perspective, as someone interested in Mishima as a giant in Japanese literature, Confessions of a Mask is a great introduction into the literary world of Mishima Yukio.

Without giving away too much, the main forces that propel the protagonist in this semi-autobiographical work, are a secret lust for masculine beauty and an attempt at heterosexual "normalcy" attempted mainly through a painfully flawed try at loving a sister of his friend. Other reviewers have commented that the second half of the story flags a bit, but for me, the frustration and concealed emotion that is tangible in the conversations between the protagonist and Sonoko is both convincing and intriguing.

However, I would agree that the first half of the book is probably more interesting. Mishima's work is less about homosexuality (with the emphasis on sex) and more about an almost reverent approach toward masculine virtue and beauty. These ideas and the struggle within the protagonist start to flag as the war draws to an end and he becomes involved with Sonoko.

I have yet to read many of Mishima's works, but the two main things that appeal to me are his staunch commitment to an ideal or perfection of some sort, and also the amazing penmanship that his stories exhibit. As with most Japanese literature, this sort of subtle detail is lost in translation, so I encourage all who have the ability and time to read the originals!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book operates on several levels, as an existential novel, portrait of war-time Japan, and as a coming of age story. I will leave it to others to comment on the other aspects of the book. As a gay story, the author confronts his present and future as a homosexual in a society that hardly recognized the existence of such persons. It is a tragic, but surprisingly not depressing, story written in direct, occasionally dark, prose.
As a gay man, I have given this book to several of my straight friends to help them understand the complex feelings gays, especially those coming out, have about their identity and place in society.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By anthony on December 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here in Japan, a lot in life is kept behind closed sliding doors and emotions rarely surface in public. Private and public are clearly delineated. The narrator courageously allows us into his complex private world of tangled emotions. Complicated sexual desire, an artistic sensibility, wit and intelligence create a picture of a precocious teenager that will remind you of Salinger's and Joyce's jaded teens. The narrator is intensely introspective, sympathetic, and has an active imagination fixated on death, sex, and workingclass muscular male bodies. Gay and straight readers alike will find this novel engaging and full of meaning about growing up behind a mask.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. C. Burrill (lburril@emory.edu) on June 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
--those words only begin to describe this claustrophobic, asphyxiating novel which is really an exercise in language as torture, prose as death sentence. Confessions of a Mask is a remarkable revelation of self and affirmation. It's hard to get a handle on Mishima's influence, but it's harder still to imagine very much of the grim and quite tedious prose coming from "the underground" today without bowing hard in Mishima's direcetion. Highly recommended.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Often people draw a definite line between being homosexual and straight, and once you know who you are you always know. Mishima, in detail, describes the inner conflicts of growing up gay. Dealing with the confusions of being able to find a woman beautiful at charming and yet being able to go no further. It is an excellent book for someone doubting themselves right now or for friends or family to know exactly what their loved one had to struggle with for many years and in some ways may still be struggling with.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rosa oncog on September 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
If one is looking for a book with a mood for eerie rituals of introspection, this is a good stuff. If one has a knack for being buttonholed with confessions, this is a good stuff too. If one likes finding the so-called absolute answers between the real and unreal, Mishima can articulate this dichotomy with his charming details and weird allegories in this novel. However this book is a great deal of a burden of tedious repetitions of his tales of perversion and guilt, while the dialogues are poorly blended to suit the whole narrative fabric.
Mishima exotically expresses the surrealism of the feelings of a homosexual man, and his confessions of self-deception, and his obssession with blood, death, beauty and tragedy. Even when this novel is originally a Mishima version of one kind of love, his work is also a sort of an amalgam among aesthetes and sensualists like Oscar Wilde and Dostoevski as reflected by this sharp passage:
"I was one of those savage marauders who, not knowing how to express their love, mistakenly kill the persons they love. I would kiss the lips of those who had fallen to the ground and were still moving spasmodically."
This is the first Mishima tale I have experienced, yet I feel that this work reveals a lot of his personality hook line and sinker.
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