Yukio Mishima 1925–1970
(Pseudonym of Kimitake Hiraoka) Japanese novelist, short story writer, dramatist, film director, and essayist.
Mishima was one of the first Japanese writers to achieve international attention. He was obsessed, both in his life and his art, with what he called "my heart's leaning toward Death and Night and Blood." Mishima combined elements of both Eastern and Western literature, but his respect for Japan's imperialistic past is an essential hallmark of his work. He created a literature, often autobiographical and darkly sensual, in which he attempted to deal with the meaninglessness of life; he was especially distressed by the materialism of postwar Japan. As a dramatist, he is noted for the skillful way he wedded elements of the ancient Noh tradition to contemporary themes.
Since his ritual suicide, Mishima's critics have attempted to explain his action through his work. Mishima may have felt that committing seppuku would affirm his personal convictions and would remind the Japanese of their lost ideals. His last work, a tetralogy known as The Sea of Fertility, is based on reincarnation. It was completed on the day of his death and many consider it the author's masterpiece.
(See also CLC, Vols. 2, 4, 6, 9 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 97-100, Vols. 29-32, rev. ed. [obituary].)