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The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  392 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima This biography begins with the spectacularly tragic last day of the militant Japanese novelist, Yukio Mishima, in 1970 (best known for his masterpiece, "The Sea of Fertility"). The book unravels why he kidnapped a leading military figure, tried to incite rebellion, and committed suicide.
Novelist, playwright, film actor, martial artist, a
Paperback, 318 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Cooper Square Publishers (first published 1974)
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Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dark-orange-band
He is a little bit annoying about knowing Mishima. Lots of "I was the only foreigner invited to x", "I was the only journalist who met him at y" and he includes a photograph of himself with Mishima. But I forgive him because his account of the Shield Society’s training manoeuvres is very interesting, and he includes some more information on Morita Masakatsu. He spends more time on the theory that Mishima saw Morita as Omi (from "Confessions of a Mask"), they had a sexual relationship, and the en ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read, japan
Mishima is one of the few people who get even more interesting the more you know about them. His narcissism paired with his worship for the Emperor and the ideals of Imperial Japan, his fascination with literature and theatre as well as with the martial tradition, the prism of blood-soaked romanticism through which he saw the world and that culminated in his ritual hara-kiri - this man remains a twisted mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Henry Scott Stokes does a good job trying to outline Mishima's t
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Is there any writer more 'out' there than Yukio Mishima? It is not just his spectacular and very public suicide - which by the way he wrote in detail about as well as doing a film version of his death, before hand of course - but also his public identity as a writer. Probably one of my favorite writers and as a teenager I couldn't get enough of him. A role model of sorts!

This is a very good biography by a friend of his, and also there is another bio in English by another friend as well..... Hmm
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Henry Scott Stokes’ The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima is one of the few biographies in English of the Japanese novelist, whose 1970 death by seppuku after a failed coup d'etat is just as much a part of his legacy as his works.

Scott Stokes understands how Mishima's death overshadows all else, and he begins the work with a very detailed description of Mishima's failed coup and suicide, before going back to his birth and beginning his life stories. His book is based on few interviews; Scott Stoke
Patrick McCoy
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Life And Death Of Yukio Mishima by Henry Scott Stokes is a good companion to John Nathan's biography, which focuses more on Mishima's early life. Stokes spends a lot of time on Mishima's politics and last years. Furthermore, there is more analysis on Mishima's work and how it reflected his life and views. In Paul Schrader's commentary for his film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, he mentions Stokes accuses them of using his book for the film at a press conference. Schrader publicly states t ...more
John Tipper
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
It seems to me for someone to do a good biography the writer should like and/or respect the subject. Stokes, however, mocks Mishima's Samurai pursuits, like weight lifting and martial arts. When it comes to Mishima's literary works, he doesn't shed much light on them either. Not really a hatchet job, this book describes at length the Japanese writer's political views and last days. The final scenes in which the novelist commits sepuko are pretty hard to take; grisly details are provided as Mishi ...more
All those short stories and novels that the author quotes and talks about, all of them untranslated, what a pity.

"Among these were wads of cotton wool. Morita asked Mishima what they would be used for; the latter smiled and said that the two must pack their anuses with cotton wool, so that they should not evacuate their bowels when committing hara-kiri."
Heather De armas
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Snooze. Too bad, great topic
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One might admire his writing and samurai spirit, but this was one crazy sumbitch!
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it
De eerste keer dat ik hoorde over Japanse schrijver Mishima (1925-1970), was toen Mishima (1985) van Paul Schrader (o.m. ook scenarist van Taxi Driver) ergens in de eerste helft van de jaren negentig op VTM getoond werd. Meteen was ik in de ban van een van de meest markante literaire figuren van de vorige eeuw. Mishima’s leven en werk is larger-than-life en intrigerend om talloze redenen. Hij wordt tot de grootste Japanse auteurs van de 20e eeuw gerekend (naast Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawab ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite little detail from this biography is that Mishima had a weird laugh.

It's great and packed with anecdotes. It seems like Scott Stokes really did have privileged access to the guy, the part where he attends a tatenokai training stands out.
Juan José
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great bio
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rose-Ellen by: P.V.
Shelves: china-or-japan
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was known mainly for his literature (even some Noh and Kabuki plays), his multiple nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature, the formation of his private militia “Tatenokai” who were dedicated to veneration of the Emperor, and his puzzling suicide.

Henry Scott Stokes had known Yukio Mishima since 1966, and had become a trusted confidant. The information in this biography has been gleaned mainly from his personal interaction, interviews, and from Mishima’s writings.
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mishima seems to be disappearing from our collective memory - this book is out of print, as are other biographies. His philosophy seems incredibly antiquated, a megalomaniacal flare from the 19th century. I cannot even begin to think about what he would be doing today, had he not died. Maybe he was born in the wrong era and would have taken to the 21st century like a duck to water. It's unfortunate that he couldn't hang on.

He is a fascinating character to me. He represents the dark side of the J
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nearly lost a star for all the talk about Japanese demokurashii and riidashippu. It's like the author wanted to make sure we knew he was a stuttering gaijin who had just learnt to read katakana, and was having a grand old time drinking kohi and biiru, and struggling to eat Japanese food, and being improperly dressed for the occasion, just like twenty-something years of JETs to follow him.

But didn't Mishima love the gaijin? I am developing a theory that he befriended so many gaijin in order to ma
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A journalist's perspective on Mishima Yukio.
The only thing that holds me back is that the author seems to rely almost exclusively on English speaking sources, nowhere does he show he can speak Japanese and I feel he could have gotten more out of the story. Yes, I know he is married to a Japanese as he states, and that he often uses romanized Japanese terms followed by their explanation, but on the other hand he keeps mentioning that his sources speak English. This kind of cripples it sometimes,
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"O 25 de novembro de 1970 Mishima se apresentou em um acampamento militar de Ichigaya com a intenção de mudar o destino de um país que, segundo ele, havia caído em um profundo letargo. Ali, Mishima e seus colaboradores tentaram sublevar os soldados para que se alçassem e instaurasem um sistema imperial no Japão. Os soldados riram de sua proposta e não deram nenhuma importância a ele. Esta foi a última de suas excentricidades antes de praticar o seppuku, o suicídio ritual dos samurais."
George Ilsley
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
The third Mishima biography I've read in recent weeks. It's all starting to blur. Stokes apparently had a fit at a press conference for the movie "Mishima" because he believed the movie was based on his book because it followed the four rivers structure. However, Mishima himself set up that structure with the four river exhibition of his life at a department store shortly before his death.

Mishima continues to be an enigma, and this biography is part of the enigma industry.
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Of the two standard biographies of Mishima, this is the one written by someone who met and interviewed him.

I've no interest whatsoever in either Mishima or his works, but I met both Scott-Stokes and his first wife, so I thought I'd give the book a try. It proved useful as a reference work for a course I offered in the Modern Japanese Novel.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it liked it
I've only read one Mishima novel - Temple of the Golden Pavilion - but I suspect it's much more interesting to read about him than to read him. Really, a nationalistic, aristocratic, closeted, Japanese novelist/playwright...that’s entertaining.
George de Armas
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Examination into the life of Japan's post war critically acclaimed writer. Mishima a conflicted yet brilliant writer, longs for a romantic almost feudal Japan which brings him into conflict with the modern world.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, japan
Just about as much as I wanted to know, and the personal direct contact added to the picture of Mishima.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fair, in depth and balanced portrait of a very tricky subject.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is not strictly a biography, it is more of a treatise on why Mishima did what he did, in the author's opinion. It is very well written and thought provoking.
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
[five stars for the photos]
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“He was easily injured and easily influenced by others, and although apparently unable to love, he demanded love from other people; yet, when there was a response, he sheered away.” 0 likes
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