I thought that this particular book by Yukio Mishima is his personal biography or memoir. I’ve finished reading the book long ago before realizing it was just a semi-autobiographical novel for the thought just comes to my mind the time I browsed the internet for reviews. Anyway, the novel is constructed as if the author retells his childhood experience that I guess at first this was his pioneer novel or media to admit that the author is gay. I’ve read another biography of Mishima and on accounts learned that maybe he suffers from masochism which parallels to the novels’ protagonist who also has sadomasochistic fantasies.
This story is about a boy’s development towards homosexuality as he progresses through his childhood, adolescence at a boy’s school to young manhood during the war. He narrates his painful experiences with terrible honesty without putting self-pity and not being sentimental about it. Tries to have an abortive love affair with his classmate’s sister, an account of youthful yearnings and his sign of loneliness for trying to live a life he should have lived but without regrets that leads to his sado-masochist obsessions.
One thing I notice about Mishima’s prose is his power to describe environment together with his narratives even though he’s not narrating about the surroundings which makes his sentences more dramatic. Mishima is the first Japanese author I’ve read (and ranks as my most favorite) that I got to wonder whether all Japanese authors’ writes like him, when I found out that it is just his own, makes me continue to love the author. Although the novel doesn’t have a universal appeal for its subject, I guess it works for readers who just want to learn not just about a part of the author but of his power to create themes which is universal and familiar to all of us. Reading this novel at times’ makes me feel like a Japanese citizen and made me understand how it feels to be. A delicately wrought coming-of-age gay novel that illustrates the struggle’s and pain of growing up behind a mask.
Opening Sentence: For many years I claimed I could remember things seen at the same time of my own birth.
Ending Sentence: Some sort of beverages had been spilled on the table top and was throwing back glittering, threatening reflections.