Wonderful writing from Mishima as expected. At its best it offers on a small scale the poetic language and imagery (which come across beautifully in this translation) and the great insight into character and action manifest in his more large-scale works. The volume is particularly interesting because it shows the progression in Mishima's writing from the immediately post-war period in e.g. Cigarette to the more mature period of the early '60s. The tales of repressed love between adolescent boys in closed school settings (Cigarette, Martyrdom) are masterful short pieces of their type, reminiscent of one of Mishima's greatest works, Confessions of a Mask, written in 1949, the same period. Acts of Worship, the title story, is a Dostoievskian tale of two characters at the opposite end of the age range from Cigarette and Martyrdom, mired in repressions buried deep beneath the neurotic-eccentric self images they have constructed to present to and survive in the world - an egotistical professor and his "uneducated" self-abnegating housekeeper - with a common bond as cultivators of poetry - in a narcissist/co-dependant dance. The ironic twist at the end, where the "uneducated" housekeeper intuitively penetrates to the truth is brilliantly done. However for me the finest tale is Sword ("Ken"). This is essential Mishima territory - a young man driven by the highest single-minded ideals forced ultimately to recognise the tragic dichotomy between his ideal of truth and its effect in the "real" world on a younger hero-worshipper whose desperate attempt to emulate his hero in his own actions ends up distorting his own integrity. The recognition of this confronting the "hero" confounds his own existential ideal aimed at mastering and transcending the external world, shattering the mainspring of his life. It's Greek tragedy and poetic imagery in prose.