Confessions of a Mask

Confessions of a Mask


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The story of a man coming to terms with his homosexuality in traditional Japanese society has become a modern classic.

Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be “normal.” Kochan is meek-bodied, and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the War reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety.
Confessions of a Mask reflects Mishima’s own coming of age in post-war Japan. Its publication in English—praised by Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Christopher Isherwood— propelled the young Yukio Mishima to international fame.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811201186
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 01/28/1958
Series: New Directions Paperbook
Pages: 1
Sales rank: 96,733
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 1130L (what's this?)

About the Author

Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo and his last novel the day of his death. He is the author of numerous novels, stories, plays, and essays. Gore Vidal once said of him: “I only regret we never met, for friends found him a good companion, a fine drinking partner, and fun to cruise with.” Mishima committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku after a failed coup d’état intended to restore pre-WWII power to the emperor of Japan.

Meredith Weatherby was an American publisher of Japanese texts.

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Confessions of a Mask 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
HaydenDerk More than 1 year ago
With a directness of words that seems simultaneously pure and elegant, Mishima here writes an (allegedly) autobiographical novel of the most scandalous and enviably talented sort. In it he traces the development of the narrator (the book is told in first-person, following the Japanese style of Shishosetsu or "I-novel" form) from early youth to late teens, chronicling his development as a homosexual in post-war Japanese society. On the platform of subject matter, this novel may still raise a few eyebrows and turn stomachs. There are some graphic depictions of death and, at one point, a dream of cannibalism accompanied by obvious fetishisms that might disuade the more squeamish of readers. However, the value of the book should not be taken as merely an accomplishment of "shock-writing", that is to say acting as if one is Chuck Palahniuk and merely trying to sell books by adding more and more shocking things to the plot, but rather as a masterpiece of narrative fiction. Though perhaps more a testament to the skill of the translator than the original author, Mishima's style in this novel comes across and clear and simple (as in the case of a Japanese Hemingway) while still giving the narrator an air of sophistication that the reader comes to expect from someone of his upbringing. Much of the text spends time describing personal thoughts (think Notes from the Underground by F. Dos.) and the physical traits of the other boys, relying less on dailog and more on description to further along the plot elements. This is done flawlessly and transports the reader into a realm where he/she feels they are no longer reading the sequences of an event but rather witnessing them in motion. Overall a masterpiece of a novel, a piercing, if not chilling, work of introspective fiction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Different cultures deal with homosexuality in different ways. 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--thus he created the metaphorical 'mask' to hide his true feelings. 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 tedious and difficult to read. 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 as it deals with the cultural norms of a repressive country. If you are interested in Japanese culture and homosexuality I would strongly recommend Covering by Kemji Yoshimo. |
Guest More than 1 year ago
In reading this book, one understands why Mishima was propelled into the spotlight of the modern Japanese literary community following its publishing. The bond Mishima forms with the reader is so strong that it cannot be broken by the darkest and most disturbing of the main character's fantasies. Mishima has bravely written a profoundly human account of what it is to be a soul tormented by society's ideals and restrictions.
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mishima's semi-autobiographical debut novel is captivating, but by no means is it a light read. The protagonist repeatedly tries to mask his homosexuality and sadistic fantasies, even to himself, in World War II era Japan. Compared to Spring Snow, this work is easier to read but ultimately not as staggering or majestic. Only through reading his other novels will I ultimately know how comparatively good this one is, but something tells me it will rank pretty high. A definite must read for fans of Mishima and Japanese Literature in general.
redkit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mishima's Confessions of a Mask is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young boy growing up with a rather unique mindset, placed against the backdrop of the horrors of WWII in Japan. Homosexual feelings, unrequited love, and strange fantasies are scattered throughout the book, but Mishima's style is so clear and compelling as to make even the most alien concepts seem somehow familiar and understandable. Through his prose we can empathise with the young Mishima, and grow close to a character that is undeniably very interesting and unusual, sharing in situations far away from the typical reader's experiences. A wonderful book, highly recommended.
jane1104 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books of all time - though it's been a while now since I read it. I had read a Mishima biography first and then had to read some of his fiction or, in this case, bio-fiction. There's just so much in this book to love, to think about and to feel. There's something so wonderful and powerful about the war always pressing in on the story amidst these very personal musings the author offers.
kougogo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Confessions of a Mask is one of the sly-est, most terrifying, and brilliant novels ever written about sexuality. It is anti-autobiographical, seedy, and painfully honest. The first time I read it (with dew in my eyes) I was repelled but also fascinated. The second and third time I read it (years under my belt now) it seemed like it was a premonition. I never thought i could relate to a narrator that fantasized about eating dudes, but I guess I proved myself wrong. munchmunchmunch
arsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i got to page 101 on my second try. with my renewals up, i'm calling it a day. he is interesting, but very philosophical. not a quick read at all. with so many books to read on my desk, whenever i stopped to read something else for a bit it just wasn't compelling enough to bring me back.
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