900 Pages on Yukio Mishima

Stone Bridge Press has released Persona, billed as the first biography of Yukio Mishima in English by a Japanese biographer. There’s an excerpt on the publisher’s website.

Reviews at The Complete Review and The Wall Street Journal.

It was in May 1951, when the serialization of Forbidden Colors was in full swing, that another young man, this one a reader of the novel, made bold and sought out Mishima’s house, clutching a sheet of paper with only this request written on it: “Where is the place called Redon, sir, that appears in your novel titled Forbidden Colors? I have come here hoping that you will tell me. As soon as you tell me, I will go away, so please.” It was Fukushima Jirō, then a twenty-one-year old college student who forty-seven years later would be subjected to a lawsuit by Mishima’s children over his book describing his relationship to their father.

Fukushima, who had been deeply shaken by Confessions a year earlier —the shock was “as if a pill resembling a toxin, thrown into my body, had quickly spurted up blue bubbles, without melting, and spread throughout me”—felt exhilarated as he realized that the new novel, Forbidden Colors, was to deal with homosexuality head on. He thought he “heard a clarion trumpet at the launching of a snow-white, sleek new passenger ship with a pointed bow.”

A maid came out, took and delivered Fukushima’s note, came back, and invited him in to a small stylish room. . . .

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I misread the title of this post at first as “900 Pages OF Yukio Mishima,” and thought to myself, ‘Why, that’s only the first two books of the Sea of Fertility tetralogy.’ Reading those books is perhaps one of the fondest literary memories of my adolescence; I’m not sure how I would feel about them now.

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