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Confessions of a Mask [Hardcover]

Yukio Mishima , M. Weatherby
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Feb 1972
This autobiographical novel, regarded as Mishima's finest book, is the haunting story of a Japanese boy's development toward a homosexual identity during and after the Second World War. Detailing his progress from an isolated childhood through adolescence to manhood, including an abortive love affair with a classmate's sister, it reports the inner life of a boy's preoccupation with death. This fourth reprint attests to the novel's enduring themes of fantasy, despair and alienation. Confessions of a Mask is a Peter Owen Modern Classic
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; New edition edition (24 Feb 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586037241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586037249
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 11.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 643,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A lyric masterpiece. Peter Owen is to be congratulated for bringing it back into print.' -- Glasgow Herald

'A terrific and astringent beauty . . . a work of art' -- Times Literary Supplement

'Never has a "confession" been freer from self-pity and emotional over-indulgence.' -- Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Yukio Mishima was born in Tokyo in 1925 and was educated at the Peer's School, where he received a special commendation from the Emperor of Japan. His international reputation as a leading Japanese writer was firmly established by the English publication in 1960 of Confessions of a Mask, considered to be one of the most important novels to have emerged from Japan since the war. In 1970 Mishima publicly committed 'seppuku', ritual suicide by disembowellment, in an ultimate gesture towards fulfilling his own fantasy of death. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
For many years I claimed I could remember things seen at the time of my own birth. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic book. 17 Nov 2003
By deadbeat VINE VOICE
Before reading this book I was told it was 'seriously screwed up, but good.' Not a desciption too far wrong, but nonetheless could be elaborated on.
Confessions of a Mask is an autobiographical novel recounting Mishima's childhood upto about the age of twenty-five. He was born in 1925, so there is ample insight into Japanese life before and during the Second World War. Though Mishima was apathetic in regard to the war, he cared much about it from an individual point of view: for him the war represented the perfect chance to end his life, both heroically and alone.
His private fascinations with death, blood and gore pervade the book, and are inseparable from his suppressed homosexuality. Sexuality is the crux of this work; the book starts with Mishima's sexual awakening, and his surprise at its nature. From then on there is a divide between his private life, and his life in public, at school, with family. On his own he dreams of Saint Sebastian, his heroism and his martydom, yet with his friends he wears a mask, pretending an obsession for women. He takes this facade very seriously, and even engages in a catastrophic affair with one of his friends' sister.
The ending is indefinite. That is, one can't tell if he still maintains a barrier between privacy and publicity. However, throughout the book Mishima always claimed that facade would become reality; it is with the rejection of this theory, and the acceptance of his own sexuality, that the book ends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest 'confession' novels ever. 27 Sep 2005
A truly stunning, semi-autobiographical novel. The story follows a young man torn between, on the one hand, his desire to fit into a heavily conformist society and on the other, his 'unconventional' base passions. This is a dark novel filled with sexual tension that gives a clear insight into the emotional conflict that characterises Mishima's own life, yet it is delivered, in stark contrast, in a beautifully delicate style of prose (hats off to the translator!). The contrast only adds to the slightly disturbing quality of the novel. The style is slightly self absorbed (as is most Japanese fiction of the same period), but this is a book that any lover of literature will almost certainly enjoy. After this one, you will want to read Forbidden Colours by the same author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The passive past tense of uncertainty 13 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kamen no kokuhaku is a claustrophobic account of the experiences of a man unable to come to terms with his own desires and identity. It is a powerful work on the stranglehold that conventionality has on personal growth. Kochan, the novel's protagonist reflects Mishima's own troubled personality in this work but this is much more than an autobiographical novel. Kochan's struggle with his homosexual impulses comes about because of his desire to conform to 'social norms.' His failure to accept his own nature has unfortunate consequences not only for his own happiness but that of others, in particular, a friend's sister. Kochan may present an extreme case, being obsessed with bondage and suicide as he is, but we all wear a mask to some extent in our daily lives. This becomes apparent to us when we are unexpectedly confronted with 'contradictions' in our behaviour which varies in different social settings. 'You are who you pretend to be', at least to others. One message from this novel is that if you sacrifice your own nature to social conformity the result is self-destructive behaviour and regret. Kochan is an extreme example, but the suppression of personal feelings for social acceptability is a universal theme which this novel evokes in a compelling fashion. This book is nothing short of a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a Mask 31 Dec 2010
A really great book, I had no idea what to expect when I first started reading it; it was like nothing I'd read in English literature before. I'm hoping to study Japanese at University next year, so bought this as some 'background reading' for the course. Really different, painfully honest book. The only reason I haven't rated it 5* is because, like somebody else has mentioned, the print is strange...It doesn't detract much from the book, but it is a funny size and I know it's stupid but it could put some people off..It does look like somebody has photocopied the original text (in quite bad quality) and printed it out for this book..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wince with Care 19 Aug 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Mishima; icy, soulless, a frame without a picture?- naturlich

Why decry a strength?

Correspondingly he dissects his early life with the aplomb of a 19th Century scientist unfurling the world around him. A Charles Darwin of the deep unthawed permafrost of internal emotions is the Mishima dry barren terrain. It is wince perfect. Beyond scientist he is an artist and penetrates far far deeper than any amateur pot holer of inside worlds. Shining his torch onto frozen emotional caverns.

Coated in bleakness, an observer gazing into himself as the cold psychic winds howl, he sees someone else inside himself, clawing to get out. This is a fascinating car crash expose of someone trying to find their own internal contours. For someone so fastidious in detail, Mishima grounded himself in the mire of dirt; the European heroes, the formation of sexuality, his transvestite experiments, the evocation of his desires all bring back moments in time. A return back to the not so closeted world of childhood fantasy, ironic because he spent his childhood literally closeted with his perenially ill grandmother. Stifled to the extreme. The fascination is the transcultural themes stirred by the return back to childhood. Whilst different currents run through the lives, Mishima searched for his adult self in the history of his childhood, a remarkable journey.

As with Celine, Mishima exposes himself to full public glare and his existential crisis, his dark shadows, alchemise into paydirt gold. Mishima's courage is in his revelation to the world he wore a mask. Underneath the outward assurance a loneliness protruded and beneath this was desolation. Omi the Mishima projection is the man he transpired to be through his body building regime, the inverse of the puny boy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic
This is a well book at a really good price. I am very happy with this purchase. Very happy !
Published 3 months ago by Chris
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an amazing edition.
Published 16 months ago by Chris A
5.0 out of 5 stars Identity
The semi-autobiographical story of an outsider; who fits into society by hiding behind a mask of conformity while struggling with his identity. Read more
Published on 14 July 2010 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly good
Like probably many readers, I first came to read Mishima's work through watching Paul Schrader's movie about him. Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2009 by lexo1941
3.0 out of 5 stars Low quality print for a classic
This is the American English translation first published in 1958. This 2007 reprint opens with a short foreword written by Paul Binding. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2009 by Ikarus
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Mishima is the Japanese Hemingway'.

Long regarded as one of the most important novels to appear in post-war Japan, Confessions of a Mask, is an allegory of a lonely... Read more
Published on 2 July 2008 by Miss S. Bonnick
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Mishima.
This book is a most direct and crisp window onto Mishima's world and along with Sun and Steel represents an essential insight into his life.
Published on 1 Dec 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Cold and intellectual
Mishima's tell-don't-show style really grates with me. And he has all the sympathy for his main character (his younger self) of a butterfly collector with a prize specimen. Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2000 by "simon7261"
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