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Confessions of a Mask

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  17,442 ratings  ·  1,233 reviews
Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be “normal.” Kochan is meek-bodied, and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 27th 1998 by Peter Owen (first published 1949)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, recs
An autobiographical novel about a boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality in wartime Japan, Confessions of a Mask reflects on what it means to conceal desire and deviance while coming of age. The novel follows Kochan, a queer male, from birth to young adulthood as he realizes and reckons with his sense of difference from most boys. Influenced by the work of French modernists, the novel forgoes conventional plot and instead fictionalizes the author’s personal history. In precise, eleva ...more
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 20-ce, translation
Second reading. A portrait of the artist as a solipsistic young queen. I think the model here is Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time with a bit of André Gide thrown in. I'm afraid the narrator has also read far too much Freud. It's a wonder then he didn't know something more about the concept of projection. For the early memories "recounted" here, those of a child three or four years old, are clearly imbued with the erotic sensibility of an experienced adult. This aspect of the novel seemed s ...more
Barry Pierce
It is crazy to think that next year we will be celebrating Confessions of a Mask's 70th birthday. Mishima's queer classic, his second novel (written in his early 20s) and earliest currently available in English, is a coming-of-age story of a young boy who struggles with his queerness.

When Kochan happens upon a reproduction of Reni's Saint Sebastian in a book he is immediately drawn to the overt homoeroticism of the work. The perfect male physique pared with the gashes and wounds of the arrows i
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: にほん, kimitake

“What we call evil is the instability inherent in all mankind which drives man outside and beyond himself toward an unfathomable something, exactly as though nature had bequeathed to our souls an ineradicable portion of instability from her store of ancient chaos.”- Stephan Zweig.

The air grew heavier as the blood soared; the sensuality insect crawled with an unprecedented ardor blinding the intoxication that arose from a monstrous swell. The naked flesh bled to the wraith of arrows and while tr
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A book can be a doorway into another human heart - that is the power of reading. The price of entry however is sometimes high - what we find can be so disturbing that we question if we really want to go there, even for a visit.

Confessions of a Mask takes us to some dark places.

We all have masks, of course. Living without any form of protection would be living with an open skin. But our masks are usually light, easily taken off or exchanged as need be.

This mask is made of stone.

The title s
Apr 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Saint Sebastian, Guido Reni

"The black and slightly oblique trunk of the tree of execution was seen against a Titian-like background of gloomy forest and evening sky, sombre and distant. A remarkably handsome youth was bound naked to the trunk of the tree. His crossed hands were raised high, and the thongs binding his wrists were tied to the tree. No other bonds were visible, and the only covering for the youth’s nakedness was a coarse white cloth knotted loosely about his loins.


The arrows
Confession , as a word, has a strong connotation – prelude to its utterance is a hesitation, and that hesitation alone, is sufficient to engulf the confession-maker with an odour that reeks of both delay and guilt.

But Mishima’s protagonist can take the liberty, because he is behind a mask. His frail body that fails him in school, denigrating his boyish flavour to a handful of jokes, holds up its masculine remnants at nights, because he is behind a mask. His impressionable juvenile mind that r
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Aki
What a great book! Mishima did a great job of depicting the story of a Japanese adolescent in Japanese society realizing that he is gay and thus having to wear a mask to hide his true self. There is so much mental confusion going through the protagonist's head, a great psychological account not only of teen angst but also of realizing you're different in a society that doesn't understand you. I've read quite a bit on Yukio Mishima and he seems to have been an interesting,intelligent and complex ...more
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-lit, mishima

Confessions of a Mask (1949) rocketed Yukio Mishima to the literary prominence he so desperately sought as a struggling modern writer. The novel explores the obsessions of a young man suffering inwardly with erotic fantasies of men, beauty and violence. He strains to conform to a heterosexual life while secretly idolizing depictions of St. Sebastian, martyred, with his hands bound and his naked torso pierced by arrows, or becoming aroused by the sight of the muscular nightsoil man walking throug
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask is of a particular species of literature, one that, despite encompassing such venerable works as Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground and André Breton's Nadja, is no longer in vogue. For the sake of a name, we might dub this species "the subjective novel," insofar as it tends to neglect the furtherance of story or plot in favour of charting out an intricate and scrupulously characterized first-person subjectivity. In the case of Confessions, the subjecti ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2017-read
New German edition available: Bekenntnisse einer Maske
The ultimate roman à clef to Mishima’s work: Set in Japan during and shortly after WWII, the novel depicts a young man trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. Forced to suppress his feelings, he struggles with the loss of his authentic self: "(...) I was beginning to understand vaguely the mechanism of the fact that what people regarded as a pose on my part was actually an expression of my need to assert my true nature, and that it wa
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sweet and tender hooligans
Recommended to Mariel by: oh you pretty things
The publisher's page quotes a passage from Dostoevski's The Brothers Karamazov:
"Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it never has and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Within beauty both shores meet and all contradictions exist side by side. I'm not a cultivated man, brother, but I've thought a lot about this. Truly there are mysteries without end! Too many riddles weigh man down on earth. We guess them as we can, and come out of the water dry.
Sidharth Vardhan
Mishima's attempt at portrayal of homosexuality gives only mix tesults. The generalisations made about himsexuals makes one want to throw the book. If you can ignore those couple of sentences though, it is an intresting portrayal of psychology of a a homosexual person living in a society where homosexuals are not supposed to exist. Intresting because I don't always find the author agreeable.

The segregation of sexes that is made in schools and colleges and jails is probably made with aim of keepi
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's interesting how much of Mishima's experience being a queermo in the first half of the twentieth century resonates with my experience of being a queermo like eighty years later: the unintentional denial, the mopeyness, the obsession, the self-consciousness, y'know. He put a bunch of stuff into words that I'd never even thought about *trying* to put into words. So yeah, that blew my mind.

Still, it's all mannered and slow and reflective and all the un-viscerally-exciting things you'd (well, I'
I read Confessions of a Mask simultaneously with Mishima: A Biography. Reading the two books dually allowed me to have a deeper insight into Mishima's life.

Confessions of a Mask is Mishima's personal account of his discovering of his homosexuality, his desire to fit in the conventional society, and of his grief over the fact that being part of the normal society is unattainable for him.

The book poignantly describes in detail his attraction to other men, in particular the philistine types, unlike
George K. Ilsley
It's ridiculous how many times I've read this book. It's all about the smell really, the smell of men on the other side of the fence. Plus he’s totally in love with that confident athletic boy at school — you know the one, Omi, in his undershirt, with the startling armpit hair.

Mishima's life trajectory is all here, all clearly mapped out, now that our hindsight is perfect.
this novel is unusual ,shocking ,very strange....
i feel sympathy for this tragic protagonist Kochan and all his mixed feelings and struggle against himself,and his own emotions being torned between his desire to be straight and his true feelings...his

fascinations and fantasies of death ,his self confidence that seems nearly in existent because of his naturally weak body ....

his Questionable love to Sonoko ,he being

Jealous from her that she could have such pure and true love that he simply cant
Until then I had mistakenly thought I was only poetically attracted to such things, thus confusing the nature of my sensual desires with a system of [a]esthetics.
I can't imagine someone who's not queer understanding everything that's going on in this book, and that's not me espousing the "everyone's actually a little bit gay" bullshit. Either you've actively wrestled with a component of your sexual/gendered/etc identity that has been/is/will be a some point in history a sign of the outcast,
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
From what I can tell, Yukio Mishima was not a very happy man.

Granted, the only works that I have read of this very prolific author are this and Kinkakuji, but I'm seeing a pattern already, and it doesn't point towards Mishima being a cheerful, laid-back guy. Of course, his suicide by seppuku is also a good indicator that he took things way too seriously.

Published in 1948, Confessions of a Mask addresses a subject that would have been taboo anywhere, not just Japan. The main character, whose name
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an earlier and much more auto-biographical book than the other Mishima I've read, and you can see here the themes that obsessed him so much in almost all of his later writing: the conflicts with his sexuality, his all-consuming obsession with dying and death, his sense of himself as a deformed outsider, 'hiding' in plain site.

Reading this as a gay guy who was in almost total denial about his sexuality into his mid 20's, there are parts of this that, even across generations and intense cu
Yigal Zur
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mishima is all the time interesting as author and as a personality and a way to get to know Japan which is behind the post card of the fuji mountain. this is a story of a boy developments towards being gay. it is an agonizing story and it is based after the time of Hiroshima bombing. a must.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-lit
What we have here is a classic Japanese ‘I’ novel that has been taken as autobiography and gospel by Mishima fetishists. As with Vollmann, it seems like readers want to hang their heroic (or anti-heroic) baggage around the author’s neck and praise or damn him for the actions of his characters. Big mistake. As with WTV, we must assume that Mishima’s Mask begins from a place of truth and fictionalizes from there. As the facts of his clandestine actions rolled off his hunky shoulders along with his ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mishima's second novel is a dark, introspective meandering through the thoughts of a young man discovering his homosexuality. Problem is, coming out of the closet here means emerging into an even darker room lit only by occasional chopping lights shining through the eye slits of the demonic mask that forms the opposite wall.
This isn't a light book. Mishima, who apparently struggled with his own homosexuality a la Proust, leads you through the harrowing thought processes of someone coming to term
Inderjit Sanghera
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lugubrious, with a waft of decadence and death, ‘Confessions of Mask’ is Mishima’s most personal work, a paean to his morbid tendencies, to his neuroses, to the mask he wore which covered the elements of his personality which he wished to hide; his latent homosexuality and fascination with masculinity, his callous views on love, his self-absorption and macabre personality.

The novel follows the adolescence and early adulthood on a teenager who is clearly a stand-in for Mishima. The image of St. S
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humanities majors, lgbt people
Shelves: favorites, japan, 4lit
Mishima knits the complexities and tensions of the narrator together until, tying off knot after knot, you feel his prison yourself. From end to end the emotions he suffers are made beautifully clear.
I do wonder if Mishima had read Dazai's No Longer Human, which came out the year before, as there are some strong similarities between the way each narrator describes his life.

You know when you read or watch something that's so good you immediately throw yourself into the rest of what that creator h
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel is one of its kind. It revolves around the problems of a adolescent in Japan during the second world war.
Yukio is becoming one of my favorites easily.
Daniel Warriner
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask (仮面の告白, Kamen no Kokuhaku) was first published in 1949, following the 1948 release of his first novel, Thieves (盗賊, Tōzoku). Written while Mishima was in his 20s, it feels in many respects like a young man's autobiography. Kochan, the protagonist, examines his passions and violent fantasies as an introvert of weak constitution. His "mask" hides from society his true self as a homsexual and also serves to conceal himself from himself, a sort of defense or alt ...more
Guillermo Galvan
Confessions of a Mask is Yukio Mishima’s second novel, a semi-biographical work that gained him recognition as brilliant young writer. The story centers on Kochan, a boy growing up in Imperial Japan during WWII, who realizes he is a homosexual, yet forces himself to pass as a heterosexual in a Right-wing militaristic society. Kochan has a perverse fascination with death. From his early childhood, he fantasizes about the heroic death awaiting him. As he becomes a young adult, his fatalistic fanta ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book #21.

I've heard of Yukio Mishima's suicide by seppuku long before I've read this book and if I were to base it from that and what I've just read, I think that he is not a very happy man.

Confessions of a Mask is Mishima's beautifully-written semi-autobiography about self-awareness and loneliness. It gives us an insight of Mishima's youth --- a homosexual confessing about his life --- his fears, obsessions, and how it is to live wearing a mask while searching for answers why he is the way he i
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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

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“What I wanted was to die among strangers, untroubled, beneath a cloudless sky. And yet my desire differed from the sentiments of that ancient Greek who wanted to die under the brilliant sun. What I wanted was some natural, spontaneous suicide. I wanted a death like that of a fox, not yet well versed in cunning, that walks carelessly along a mountain path and is shot by a hunter because of its own stupidity…” 161 likes
“When a boy…discovers that he is more given into introspection and consciousness of self than other boys his age, he easily falls into the error of believing it is because he is more mature than they. This was certainly a mistake in my case. Rather, it was because the other boys had no such need of understanding themselves as I had: they could be their natural selves, whereas I was to play a part, a fact that would require considerable understanding and study. So it was not my maturity but my sense of uneasiness, my uncertainty that was forcing me to gain control over my consciousness. Because such consciousness was simply a steppingstone to aberration and my present thinking was nothing but uncertain and haphazard guesswork.” 136 likes
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