Wilde Readers Book Club: Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima
Wilde Readers Book Club: A reading group focusing on LGBTQ+ lit, classic and contemporary.
This month's book club pick is Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima.
One of the classics of modern Japanese fiction, it is the story of an adolescent who must learn to live with the painful fact that he is unlike other young men. Mishima's protagonist discovers that he is becoming a homosexual in a polite, post-war Japan. To survive, he must live behind a mask of propriety.
Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an 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.
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death in November, 1970), along with more than forty play, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes and hundreds of essays. Influenced by European literature, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan's ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He had sung on the stage, starred in and directed movies and was a noted practitioner of Japan's traditional martial arts. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku.
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