Mishima Yukio is considered one of Japan's great post-WWII authors and I had wanted to read some of his work for sometime. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature three times, though he never won it, and he died at the age of 45 (Nov. 25, 1970) after committing ritualistic suicide - seppuku - and having his he cut off. An interesting life to say the least.
Confessions of a Mask is his first novel and was published in 1948 when he was just 23 years old. It is said that it is semi-autobiographical, though there's no way to know how true to actual life events it is. The entire book is written in the first-person and is basically a window into the narrators inner self, a self that is at odds with itself. Themes of sexuality, homosexuality, death, love, and normality are prevalent and they provide a fascinating view on subjects that are often still regarded as taboo to this day. If the raciest book you've read is Pride and Prejudice, then you may want to avoid this one. There are numerous instances of masturbation, mutilation, necrophilia, homosexual fantasy, and, believe it or not, armpit fetishism. Through it all though is a truth that is rarely recognized, much less spoken of. It may be hard to pity the narrator at times, while at times he is very pitiable, but you may find yourself surprised in how many ways you can relate to him. I know I was.
This is a translation so it to be expected that some things will get lost along the way. While I haven't read this in Japanese, I can tell that some of his poetry does get lost in translation. It's not so bad that it's unreadable, it can just be a bit heavy handed at times.
Overall I found this to be a good read that only got better as it went on. It's not hard to see why this is a modern classic of Japanese literature and how it remains relevant some 60 years later. Definitely worth a read for those looking for something different.