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The Frolic of the Beasts

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Translated into English for the first time, a gripping short novel about an affair gone wrong, from the author of the Sea of Fertility tetralogy.

Set in rural Japan shortly after World War II, The Frolic of the Beasts tells the story of a strange and utterly absorbing love triangle between a former university student, Kōji; his would-be mentor, the eminent literary critic I
Paperback, 166 pages
Published November 27th 2018 by Vintage (first published 1961)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  231 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
Totally unrelated to my reading of this book: I must be in the Top 10 of Mishima fans in North London and, you know what?, I found out about this publication by myself. I feel that I give and I give all of myself to the internet on the understanding that they'll tell me about important stuff like this. Where was Amazon? Where was my Google alert? What's the point of all of the internet if it doesn't tell me about the publication of a new Mishima?

On the book:
- love the cover, obvs
- I'd have appre
Doug H
Jan 16, 2019 added it
Probably a 4 (or at least a 3), but only if you’re a hardcore Mishima-phile. I can’t say for sure because I’m abandoning it at 1/3 of the way through and I never rate books that I don’t finish.
Ace Boggess
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As with all Mishima, this story is beautiful and unsettling, poetic and sad, subtle and bold. I can't believe I didn't know about this until its recent Vintage printing. A magnificent work of art.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With exaggerated characters and recurring poetry that echoes like a refrain, The Frolic of Beasts reads like an tragicomic opera, and who will emerge as hero or villain will be determined by whose story you find most sympathetic.
Read my full review here:
Graham Wilhauk
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
BEAUTIFUL book. I am SO happy that we FINALLY got another Mishima novel translated into English. This is a BIG step in the right direction for Vintage Books and the publishing world in general. Ok, maybe it's not a GIGANTIC step, but it is a step that I found to be EXTREMELY worthwhile. If this novel does well in the states, than we may get the rest of his books translated in the near future. Also, in my opinion, this is a GREAT book. It isn't perfect since it does have some dry spots in its nar ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Enjoyable but inconclusive. The story revolves around 3 main characters, Ippei, his wife Yuko, and Koji, a young man Ippei initially recruits as a temp in his ceramics shop. Before succeeding his parents in the shop, Ippei went to college and had a minor career as a critic of German literature. However, once established in business, he turned into a wily salesman, as well as a skirt-chaser. To Koji, Ippei claims that he is unfaithful only in the hope of provoking Yuko's jealousy. But when Yuko c ...more
J. Watson (aka umberto)
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
3.50 stars

I've found reading this novel translated by Andrew Clare (its original in Japanese first published in 1961) a bit disappointing and writing its review reluctant, maybe due to its lenghty time-lapse interval between the mentioned year and the translated one, that is, 2018-1961= 57 years during which I enjoyed more or less reading his 14 titles with stories included in some. When I came across this paperback in early December last year, its title instantly interested me, keeping me wonde
Kara Jay
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book through a goodreads giveaway for my honest opinion.
I really really enjoyed this book. I didn't want to stop reading it, but work always gets in the way.
This book is beautiful. The story is great and engaging. I had a hard time relating to the characters, but the writing drew me in.
There were multiple times when I just gasped and said wow at the beauty of this writing.
This was my first Yukio Mishima and I will definitely be reading more.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-fiction
Structurally, it would be easy to pithily summarize the plot of The Frolic of the Beasts by declaring it to be a classic love triangle, in this case, of one woman and two men. But this would be quite an injustice against this short, yet intensely psychological novel. The story of former student Koji, “a fun-loving, hot-headed youth,” Ippei, a renowned literary critic and author with Casanova tendencies, and Yuko, his conflicted wife, is filled with deep and dark drama.

The book is a translation b
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
[NO SPOILERS -- I haven't proofread it, though, so please excuse its incoherent flow]

Thematic and philosophical exploration is the focus as this brief narrative describes the relationship between three individuals whose lives are almost entirely defined by their love triangle. As with most theme-heavy, rhetorical works of fiction, the characters in The Frolic of the Beasts read more like archetypal placeholders in an allegory than they do representations of persons but that serves well one of th
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exquisitely written sad, sad story of controlling love gone so wrong. The writing is so evocative and delicate it has a way of camouflaging the hidden horror. It does emerge, gently and viciously.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's not one of his best, but it drew me in all the same. Getting to read anything "new" from Mishima is something special.
Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an advanced reader's copy of The Frolic of Beasts in exchange for an honest review.

The Folic of Beasts was initially written by Yukio Mishima in the 1960s and this is the first edition to be translated into English.
I'm a big fan of Japanese fiction, specially authors Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro, so when I first cracked open this book, I expected something of that sort. And that is exactly what I got! The writing is so lyrical and beautiful that I wa
Vitani Days
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a young Japanese student falls into the orbit of a beautiful woman and her husband, he is driven to an act of violence that unites the three in a corrupt love triangle fueled by desire and repentance. And that one impulsive act relentlessly leads to more brutality in the poetically written novel The Frolic of the Beasts.

This novel by Yukio Mashima was first published in Japan in 1961 and has now received its first English translation. Mishima is considered to be one of the most important av
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giappone
Ho qualche difficoltà con gli autori giapponesi,poiché non riesco ad immedesimarmi completamente nella psicologia dei personaggi.Questa volta però devo dire che è stato diverso, e nonostante la prosa un po' manierata e la contemplazione estetica della natura a tratti un po' sdolcinata,il libro mi è piaciuto.
Mi hanno trascinato avanti,curiosa e impaziente di sapere come si sarebbe svolto l'epilogo della vicenda,la tensione del dramma imminente,annunciato subito dalle prime pagine.
E' una storia di
Benjamin Harris
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man, I was thrilled when I heard another Yukio Mishima book was being translated into English, as he is one of my favorite authors (if not my favorite.) I had sort of given up hope at having any more of his works translated, to the point that I was almost reluctant to finish the few remaining English works that I had not gone through; it felt like it would be the end of something. So, this book gives fresh hope that maybe more of his works will make their way into English, so long as it drums up ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
A CONFESSION: I haven't read much Japanese Literature, and I think the last time I read it was the required readings we had when I was still in University. One thing I remember about it is it heavily reflects their culture and tradition. The Frolic of the Beasts reminds me of what I miss and love in reading Japanese Literature.

At first glance, the plot seems to be about a classic love triangle. However, The Frolic of the Beasts explores a deeper psychological symbolism of human frailty in intim
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love can be a wonderful thing. It can also be extremely messed-up. Yukio Mishima's The Frolic of the Beasts, recently released in a new English translation, is about three complicated individuals who form an unorthodox love triangle under the strangest of circumstances. The author's prose brims with poetry, sadness, and evocative imagery as always. His characters are well-drawn and each chapter allows a new development of their personalities to carefully reveal itself. A quintessential Japanese ...more
Jonathan Carter
I think the book is shrouded with an enigmatically beautiful story that is not for me. I wasn't able to clearly comprehend what the story wanted to portray, how it wants to make me understand the characters, or how the transitioning of the book works. But, I can definitely say that there is something about this book that tickles my curiosity for another time of reading.

Full review:
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first novel I’ve read by Mishima. I was tempted to give it a “3” as I’ve got mixed feelings on it. Basically I don’t find love triangles compelling reading. Two things did work for me with this – I found the characters well developed, even the minor ones. Mishima’s prose is some of the most beautiful I’ve read in years. The guy can really turn a phrase. A bit of a surprise from an author who’s politics was rather disturbing.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
If you enjoy asking “wait! Whaaaat?!” while reading a book - get this one.
The most fascinating part was the prologue and the story of how the author died. Such a cliche in a way.

Otherwise the story is an interesting overview that presents emotions of people that are never showing any emotion. You could start empathizing with some of the characters.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
It has an awkward start, but it’s an interesting book. The translation is generally good, though there are a few spots where I found the translation work to be especially gauche.

Like David said in his review on here, this was a bit Mishima-by-numbers. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but reading it was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Theresa Putkey
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Didn't totally like the translation. I can often get into the rhythm of the writer, but with this book I felt my eyes lurched from word to word. Plus I didn't get a lot of the symbolism so I gave up about halfway through.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
**I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

**3.5 Stars**

This was a very intriguing, well-written novel. It did take me a bit to really engage with it. Initially it seems like a pretty basic premise, but the prose makes it standout.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
For this review and others like it, please visit my blog at
Mariano Arce
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sad and Beautiful.
Cyril Gleiman
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mishima's short novels are brilliant.
Brooke Salaz
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this creepy tale of an unwholesome love/lust triangle. Mishima has created a wonderfully atmospheric and ominous work that had me quite spellbound throughout.
Rob Christopher
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Elegant, hypnotic prose as usual but the central love triangle isn't very interesting. Mishima has certainly written better books.
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, th ...more