cover image Mishima: A Vision of the Void

Mishima: A Vision of the Void

Marguerite Yourcenar. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14.95 (151pp) ISBN 978-0-374-21033-5

Motives for Mishima's ritual suicide in 1970 at age 45 have been interpreted as esthetic, erotic, exhibitionistic, political and desperate (the waning talent syndrome). In this essay, novelist Yourcenar (The Abyss, Fires shows convincinglyvia an examination of Mishima's novels, plays and other writings, as well as the movie, Patriotism, in which Mishima plays the role of a suicidethat his life was ""an exhausting climb . . . to his proper end,'' proper in his own view, at least, his seppuku carefully premeditated. Although Yourcenar's study helps one to appreciate the strength of Western influence on Mishima and trace his obsession with death as it appeared in what he wrote, it is marred by fuzzy thinking dressed in pretentious or merely vapid language``that powerful plexus which controls in us all our actions and emotions''; ``Confessions of a Mask . . . fits all young people between 1945 and 1950''; ``the ozone odor of pure energy.'' She has, in effect, done little more than show us that the best interpreter of Mishima is Mishima. (November)