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Confessions of a Mask Paperback – January 17, 1958


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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: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,756 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

The entire book focuses on the author's inner life.
Debbie Wilson
Mishima's autobiographical debut novel is a wonderful confessional of imagery and reflection.
Mike
It is also an easy read and incredibly insightful and powerful book.
Jon Cruz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By C. 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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Diana L. Blackwell on April 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Mishima's sadomasochistic homosexuality asserted itself early. While still a tiny child he responded instantly to certain kinds of masculine beauty and found a mysterious fascination in images and narratives of heroic men being tortured and, ideally, killed. The supreme example was a picture of the martyred St. Sebastian, bound and riddled with arrows, which the child Mishima experienced as the world's heaviest turn-on. Naive as he was, the young author still knew somehow that his interests were unusual and disgraceful, so he kept them secret. The story of his early inner life, with its crushes and fantasies, takes up the first half or so of the book and is fascinating.
But then, during young manhood, Mishima tries to become "normal" and fall in love with a girl. Though he likes her very much, he isn't attracted to her physically. The story of this doomed relationship takes up the second half of the book. Being more or less devoid of incident, and (obviously) lacking in erotic passion, it's much less interesting than the foregoing chapters.
Confessions of a Mask ends disappointingly but the earlier section of the book gives a candid, moving, and memorable account of a child's confused and troubled emerging sexuality.
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11 of 12 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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8 of 9 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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10 of 12 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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14 of 18 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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