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Unformatted text preview: s stock (his father was a moderately successful bureaucrat),
Mishima had a most unwholesome childhood under the fanatically possessive domination of his grandmother, with whom he lived and in whose
bed he slept until age twelve. Quite likely this early experience nourished
the homosexuality that became so central not only to his later social
behavior but also to his artistic vision.
Mishima attended the lustrous Peers School in Tokyo, where he
achieved an outstanding academic record and even received an award
from the hand of the emperor for graduating at the head of his class in
1944. He showed considerable precocity in writing, and although, at the
urging of his father, he attended Tokyo University Law School and began
a career in the Finance Ministry in 1947, he soon abandoned this to
become a full-time author. In 1949 he vaulted into fame with the publication of an extraordinary, painfully revealing autobiographical novel
entitled Confessions of a Mask (Kamen no Kokuhaku).
One of Mishima’s purposes in writing Confessions of a Mask was to
debunk the I-novelists, many of whom he believed merely chronicled in
excruciating detail the dullness of their lives without ever really probing
into the dark inner realms of human psychology. Whether or not the Inovelists as a group were, in fact, guilty of not telling the ultimate truth
about themselves or getting to the roots of their existences, Mishima
himself certainly revealed enough in Confessions of a Mask about his own
emotional essence to explain the main course of his life and even his
manner of death.
The Mishima we see in Confessions of a Mask is a narcissistic young
man powerfully attracted from an early age to such things as the sight
of a night soil man dressed in close-fitting thigh-pullers, the odor of
sweat emanating from soldiers, and the “black thickets” in masculine
armpits. But far more importantly, these homosexual cravings were associated with an aesthetic of blood and death.47 This fact is startlingly impressed upon us in the famous passage from Confessions of a Mask wherein
Mishima reveals that he had his first ejaculation upon viewi...
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- Spring '13