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Mishima, Aesthetic Terrorist


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About the Author

British author Andrew Rankin was educated at the universities of London, Tokyo, and Cambridge. His other books include Snakelust, a translation of short fiction by Nakagami Kenji, and Seppuku: A History of Samurai Suicide.


In this erudite, stimulating study, Andrew Rankin takes us to the less-visited corners of Mishima's complete works, the intellectual essays that were the fount for the ideas that played themselves out in his novels. . . . Rankin argues that Mishima's late works were not so much analyses of "aesthetic terrorism" as written exemplars of it, and assesses that Mishima's suicide was not a botched coup d'etat, but a spectacular coup de theatre.--Damian Flanagan "Japan Times"
This book is a real pleasure to read: it's zippy and lucid and smart and has a nice personal touch. Given the amount that has been written on Mishima in Japanese, it is remarkable that Rankin's argument comes across as fresh and original. Rankin reveals that Mishima's spectacular suicide and his kitsch aesthetic politics were far more lucidly motivated than one had imagined. One of the biggest payoffs is the revelation of Mishima as a great, original, idiosyncratic literary critic and thinker.--Alan Tansman, author of The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism
This is a powerful book written with style about a powerful writer who lived and died with style; a thought-provoking critique of the artistic and intellectual themes that characterize the figure we know as "Mishima." Rankin delves deep into the vast archive of Mishima's essays, most of them untranslated, and juxtaposes them carefully with the fiction to spectacular effect. The result is to transport Mishima well beyond the immediate "Japaneseness" of his environment and reveal a writer whose work is of increasing relevance in a world that, more than ever, needs to understand the motivations that drive the "terrorist."--Richard Bowring, Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge
This is one of the best books on Mishima I have read in years. By using Mishima's aesthetics of beauty and violence (what the author calls "aesthetic terrorism"), the book provides a fascinating and insightful picture of Mishima's aesthetic, stylistic, and overall development both as a writer and as what might be called a "performance artist," a man who combined his own life and art in the final performance of his attempted coup d'etat and suicide. Mishima is once again being taken seriously as a major writer, and this book is a valuable contribution to the renewed discussion surrounding his work. It is a provocative and useful study about one of the most interesting writers of twentieth-century Japan.--Susan Napier, author of Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art

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