Mishima yukio

Mishima yukio

Mishima Yukio (Japanese 三島 由紀夫 ; in German Yukio Mishima; * 14. January 1925 in Tokyo as Hiraoka Kimitake ( 平岡 公威 ); † 25. November 1970 ibid) was a Japanese writer, poet, director, and nationalist political activist. Mishima wrote novels, screenplays, plays, short stories, as well as poetry and a libretto, and is considered one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Century. His avant-garde works blended modern with traditional aesthetics and broke diverse cultural norms of their time with their focus on taboo subjects such as sexuality, death, violence, and political upheaval. [1]

In addition to his work as a contemporary author of postwar Japanese literature, Mishima was also active as a political activist, and in the process founded his private militia, the Tatenokai. On 25. November 1970, he and three members of his militia carried out a coup attempt on the Japanese military base with the aim of restoring the emperor’s power. After this failed, Mishima committed ritual suicide. The coup subsequently became known worldwide as the "Mishima Incident".

The Mishima Prize was established in 1988 to honor his life’s work, and has been awarded annually ever since.

Table of Contents

Life

Early years

Mishima was born under the name Hiraoka Kimitake, the son of Hiraoka Azusa, a deputy of the Ministry of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, and Hiraoka Shizue (nee Hara). Shizue’s father, Kenzō Hashi, was a scholar of Chinese literature and served with his family for generations in the Maeda samurai clan. In addition, Mishima had a brother named Chiyuki, as well as a sister named Mitsuko, who died of typhoid fever in 1945 at age 17. [2]

His early childhood was strongly influenced by his grandmother Natsuko, who separated Mishima from his family for several years and sparked his interest in Kabuki theater. Natsuko is the daughter of Matsudaira Yoritaka, a Daimyō of Hitachi Province, and was raised in the Japanese imperial family under Arisugawa Taruhito. Even after she moved out of the imperial house and married Sadatarō Hiraoka, a bureaucrat and general of Karafuto Prefecture, she retained her aristocratic pretensions and violent tendencies from her upbringing, both of which would have a major influence on Mishima’s later literature. Natsu forbade Mishima from playing sports and socializing with other boys his age, so he spent much time alone or with his cousins. [3]

At the age of twelve, Mishima rejoined his family and developed a close relationship with his mother. His father, on the other hand, drilled him with military discipline and derided his devotion to literature as "effeminate". Among other things, he is said to have regularly checked his room for manuscripts and, as a result, violently maltreated Mishima so that he began to hide his texts or tear them up directly.

School years and first works

At age six, Mishima attended Gakushuin, an elite government school where he belonged to a literary society. He owed this circumstance to his grandmother, who insisted that he attend this school, while his parents were rather opposed to it. Inspired by Oscar Wilde, Rainer Maria Rilke, Raymond Radiguet as well as a multitude of Japanese authors, he wrote his first own texts at the age of twelve, not only in Japanese, but also in French, German and English, which he had taught himself autodidactically. That same year, he became a member of the editorial board of his literary association, making him the youngest member in the school’s history. It was there that he first became aware of the works of Japanese author Michizō Tachihara, for whom he developed a great affinity and subsequently adapted his writing style, Waka. In the years that followed, Mishima published his writing exclusively in Waka before turning to prose.

At thirteen, Mishima was asked by his school to write a short story for the school magazine, to which he submitted Hanazakari no Mori (Eng. The forest in full bloom), a story about a boy who feels that his ancestors live on in his body and blames this for his inner turmoil. Mishima’s teachers were so enthusiastic that they submitted the short story to the prestigious literary magazine Bungei-Bunka passed on to him, who had it printed in a limited edition of 4000 copies. To avoid bullying by his schoolmates, the story was published under the pseudonym Yukio Mishima, which he used for all his literary works from then on.

Mishima’s short story Tabako (dt. The Cigarette), published in 1946, dealt specifically with the bullying he faced after telling his schoolmates in the Rugby Union that he was switching to the Literary Union. The trauma is also considered the inspiration for his short story published in 1954 Shi o Kaku Shōnen (dt. The Boy Who Made History).

Because Mishima faked tuberculosis when he was drafted, he did not have to do military service in World War II. [4] He left Tokyo University in 1947 with a law degree and initially worked at the Ministry of Finance, but quit within a year to have more time to write.

Postwar Literature

Mishima yukio

Early in his career as a full-time writer, Mishima made a name for himself in particular as a playwright for the Kabuki theater, for which he modernized traditional Nō plays. The drama Kemono no Tawamure (Eng. The Joke of the Beasts), for example, presents a parody of Motomezuka a well-known drama from the 14th century. Century. Through his successful short story Misaki nite no Monogatari (Eng. A story at the cape) came to the attention of the Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata, whom he visited in January 1946 to get advice on his manuscripts Chūsei and Tabako catch up. The latter was published with Kawabata’s help in the literary magazine Ningen which also facilitated the publication of his first novel Tōzoku (dt. Thieves) enabled.

At the end of the same year, Mishima began work on Tōzoku, a story about two aristocrats who develop a fascination for suicide. It was first published in 1948, officially placing Mishima in the ranks of the Second Generation of postwar poets. The first major success, however, came the following year with the publication of his second novel Confessions of a Mask, a semi-autobiographical story about a boy who discovers his homosexuality and keeps it a secret so as not to be outcast by society. The novel was highly successful internationally and made Mishima famous at the young age of 24. In response, there was a series of essays in the magazine Kindai Bungaku, addressed as an acknowledgement to his mentor Yasunari Kawabata.

Due to his increasing popularity, Mishima traveled frequently from 1950 onwards, learning about foreign cultures, which he incorporated into his work from the early 1950s onwards. In 1952, he lived in Greece for a few months and meticulously studied Greek mythology. His novel The Sound of Waves deals with some of the experiences of the journey and was largely inspired by the Greek myth of Daphnis and Chloe.

From the mid-fifties onwards, Mishima dealt with more and more contemporary events in his works. The Temple Fire for example, is a fictionalization of the events and inner thoughts of a monk who develops an obsession with a golden hall in the temple precinct and eventually burns it down. The novel is based on an actual incident: on 2. July 1950 the Golden Pavilion of the Deer Garden Temple in Kyōto was destroyed by the arson of a monk. For research, Mishima had visited the perpetrator in prison. After the Banquet deals with an affair between a reformist politician and the owner of a nightclub in Ginza, and has many parallels with the adultery of the Japanese diplomat Arita Hachirō. The latter then sued Mishima for violating his right to privacy and, after three years of litigation, was awarded 800.000 yen as compensation.

His last completed work was the four-part cycle of novels The Sea of Fertility; it is Mishima’s response to the increasing influences of Western values on Japanese culture and deals with central themes such as the doctrine of alaya consciousness and the relationships between youth, beauty, reason, and knowledge. The resulting philosophy was subsequently christened "cosmic nihilism" and forms the basis for Mishima’s worldview and political activism, which he practiced in parallel. The final volume of the tetralogy, The Death Marks of the Angel, was published post mortem in 1971 after the manuscript was found in his apartment.

Mishima was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but did not win it despite being a three-time favorite. Mishima himself expressed no surprise at this, lecturing that a Japanese author had already received the prize in 1968 and that his chances were thus slim.

Acting and modeling career

In the 1960s, Mishima also appeared in a series of lurid yakuza and samurai films and posed for photo books featuring homoerotic semi-nudes of himself. With Yūkoku ( 憂国 , 1966), he directed a Nō-style film based on his short story of the same name (German Patriotism) based. In it, Mishima plays naval officer Takeyama, who, after the failed coup of 26. February 1936 takes leave of his wife Reiko and commits seppuku (ritualized suicide). His wife follows him to his death.

Political activism

Mishima yukio

After 1960, in the face of leftist student unrest in Tokyo, Mishima turned visibly to nationalist ideas. In his essay Bunka Bōeiron ( 文化防衛論 , German "Verteidigung einer Kultur"), Mishima argued in 1968 that the Tennō, the emperor of Japan, was the source of Japanese culture, and that defending the emperor was thus also defending one’s own culture. He formed a private army of about 80 men, recruited mostly from right-wing student circles, called the Tatenokai ("Shield Society"), dedicated to fighting communism and protecting traditional Japanese values and the emperor. He also advocated nuclear armament for Japan. [4]

Coup attempt and death

On 25. November 1970 Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai took the on-duty commander of the Japanese armed forces hostage in Tokyo. [5] From the balcony of the headquarters (now the seat of the Japanese Ministry of Defense), he delivered a speech calling on the army to occupy parliament and reinstate the emperor. His appeal, however, was inconsequential due to the disinterest of the soldiers. Immediately afterward, Mishima and one of his close associates committed seppuku and had themselves beheaded by a third person present.

In 1968, Mishima had expressed in an interview that, unlike the Western image of suicide, which is usually seen as defeat, "harakiri sometimes makes you win". According to the biography by Henry Scott Stokes, Mishima had been planning his suicide for several years and had set his date of death a year in advance. His belief in a chance of success regarding the restoration of the empire therefore seems questionable. Stokes, however, disputed views that Mishima’s suicide was some kind of final artistic expression or a romantic double suicide with his lover. The setting – the center of the military force in Tokyo – makes the act a clearly politically motivated one, he said. [4]

Private life

Mishima yukio

Because of his frail stature, Mishima developed complexes about his body image at a young age, so he began excessive weight training in 1955. He performed his routine, consisting of three weekly sessions, consistently for fifteen years until his death in 1970. In his essay published in 1968 Sun and Steel explored his motivations for weight training in more detail, lamenting the habit of intellectuals to prioritize the mind and completely disregard the art and importance of the body. In addition to normal strength training, Kendō later became part of his repertoire.

After a brief engagement to Michiko Shōda, later wife of Emperor Akihito, Mishima participated in the 11. In June 1958, he married Yoko Sugiyama, with whom he had two children: a daughter named Noriko (b. 1959) and a son named Ichiro (b. 1962).

Mishima hinted at signs of homosexuality as early as his first novels, and while working on Forbidden Colors Gay bars in Japan. The ambiguity over Mishima’s sexual orientation was an ongoing conflict between him and his wife, who denied until after his death that Mishima had ever had any interest in his own sex. In 1998, Japanese author Jiro Fukushima published a letter describing a sexual affair with Mishima that is said to have taken place in 1951. Its children then successfully sued Fukushima for injunctive relief.

Toward the end of his life, Mishima espoused a very unique form of nationalism that made him hated by both the Political Left and conventional nationalists, the former in particular because of his allegiance to the Bushidō, the samurai code of honor, the latter because of his write-up Bunka Bōeiron (Eng.: "Defense of Culture"), in which he accused the then Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, of not taking responsibility for the fallen Japanese soldiers in World War II.

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