Yukio Mishima was born Kimitake Hiraoka, the son of a government bureaucrat. Mishima’s life was unusual from the outset. His physically ill grandmother, Natsuko, virtually kidnapped the firstborn of her son Azusa and his wife, Shizue, sequestering the child in her quarters. The young Mishima lived with her, enduring that strained situation. When he was ready for the seventh grade, however, she allowed him to move back to his parents’ section of the house. Mishima said that as early as the age of five, he learned to prefer an imaginary world, often of violence, to the real world. As early as the age of four he was to begin a pattern of falling in love with pictures in books. A favorite picture was of Joan of Arc, whom he assumed to be a male. Mishima candidly reported that his first erotic arousal occurred when he was looking at a photograph of Guido Reni’s portrait of Saint Sebastian pierced by arrows.
Mishima attended the exclusive Peer’s School in Tokyo. He was too young for the draft in early World War II but was called up later, only to fail the physical, and so returned to work in the aircraft factory where he had been employed. Fame was to come to him following the publication of the novel Confessions of a Mask. He complemented his writing of plays and novels by creating his own persona, pursuing bodybuilding and mastering English. Mishima visited the United States on a world tour, which included Latin America and Greece, in 1951...
(The entire section is 479 words.)