On a former occasion when i had returned to the

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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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