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    Mishima’s diaries reveal shocking truth about train fares

    Those who know Yukio Mishima’s 仮面の告白 (kamen no kokuhaku: “Confessions of a Mask“) may be interested in this (English, Japanese):

    A diary that novelist Yukio Mishima kept when he was a student is believed to have provided material for his later novels, contradicting previous theories on his works.

    “Railway fare, 1 yen,” and “Nikkan Sports (a sport newspaper), 0.5 yen,” the diary partially reads.

    In the diary he kept from 1946 to 1947, Mishima described in detail his efforts to become a novelist, his relations with another famous novelist, Osamu Dazai, and his reunion with a woman believed to be the model of Sonoko, a woman in his masterpiece, “Kamen-no-Kokuhaku (Confession of a Mask).”

    In the novel, after the main character rebuffs Sonoko’s advances, she marries another man, but they are subsequently reunited.

    Well, you could kind of put it that way. Here’s a hurried translation from part of the café reunion scene, in which Sonoko tells the protagonist that she still doesn’t understand what kept him from marrying her:

    [Warning: clunky literalness below!]

    At that point, my eye was drawn to one of them. He was a very rough-looking, swarthily handsome youth–22 or 23. He was shirtless, and he was retying a white loincloth, dingy and moist with sweat, around his waist. All the while, his chatter and laughter with his friends went on, and he seemed to be purposefully taking his time about winding the cloth band. The thick, taut swells of muscle on his chest were on brazen display; downward from the center of his chest fell more solid bands of muscle, deeply ridged. On his left and right sides were thick chains of flesh, like fast rope bindings. Around this smooth, hot mass of a torso the bleached loincloth was being wound and pulled tight. His naked suntanned shoulders glistened as if oiled. From the hollows of his armpits peeked a black thicket that threw off the sunlight in a glinting gold tangle.

    Seeing these things–seeing, above all, the tatoo of a peony on his toned upper arm–I was assailed by lust. My feverish gaze was fixed on this rough, barbaric–this uncommonly beautiful–body. He was laughing beneath the sun. When he threw his head back, he showed the swell of his Adam’s apple. A dangerous flutter ran beneath my chest. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him.

    I’d forgotten that Sonoko existed.

    In fact, much of the book is like this: the progtagonist lusts after the nightsoil man, an athletic boy at school, and a print of St. Sebastian. Gay humanists frequently make a big to-do about homosexual content that doesn’t really seem to be there, but there’s no mistaking it in 仮面の告白. Of course, it’s no surprise that a Japanese newspaper would glide over it. For one thing, a lot of people still take the line that there’s no homosexuality here. (I’ll wait for you to stop laughing. Done? Okay.) For another, describing the book accurately might be skirting close to commenting on Mishima’s own sexuality. This is, after all, a country in which you can find articles about Mutsuo Takahashi that don’t mention his sexuality.

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