Because of the boyhood trauma of seeing his mother make love to another man in the presence of his dying father, Mizoguchi becomes a hopeless stutterer. Taunted by his schoolmates, he feels utterly alone until he becomes an acolyte at a famous temple in Kyoto. He quickly becomes obsessed with the beauty of the temple. Even when tempted by a friend into exploring the geisha district, he cannot escape its image. In the novel's soaring climax, he tries desperately to free himself from his fixation.
About Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, The Sea of Fertility tetralogy—which contains the novels Spring Snow (1969), Runaway Horses (1969), The Temple of Dawn (1970), and The Decay of the Angel (1971)—is considered one of the definitive works of twentieth century Japanese fiction. In 1970, at the age of 45 and the day after completing the last novel in the Fertility series, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide)—a spectacular death that attracted worldwide attention.
About Ivan Morris
Ivan Morris studied Japanese language and culture at Harvard University while serving in the Intelligence Section of the U.S. Navy Reserves. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1951, he worked for the Far East Section of the BBC as well as for the Japan and Pacific departments of the British Foreign Office. He lived in Tokyo for several years, writing, lecturing, and teaching. In 1960 he joined what would later be renamed the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, where he served as department chair. He was elected a Fellow of St. Anthony’s College at Oxford in 1966. Morris published numerous books on Japanese history, literature, and politics and produced distinguished translations of classical and contemporary Japanese works. He died in 1976.
"Beautifully translated... Mishima re-erects Kyoto, plain and mountain, monastery, temple, town, as Victor Hugo made Paris out of Notre Dame."
-- The Nation
"An amazing literary feat in its minute delineation of a neurotic personality."
-- Chicago Tribune
Translated from the Japanese by Ivan Morris