Cover image for My friend Hitler and other plays of Yukio Mishima
My friend Hitler and other plays of Yukio Mishima
Mishima, Yukio, 1925-1970.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 316 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
The Rokumeikan -- Backstage essays -- The decline and fall of the Suzaku -- My friend Hitler -- The terrace of the leper King -- The flower of evil: kabuki -- A wonder tale: the moonbow.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PL833.I7 A6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Though best known for his novels, Yukio Mishima published more than sixty plays, almost all of which were produced during his lifetime. Among them are kabuki plays and others inspired by No dramas--two types used in classical Japanese theater. Of play-writing Mishima once observed, "I started writing dramas just as water flows toward a lower place. In me, the topography of dramas seems to be situated far below that of novels. It seems to be in a place which is more instinctive, closer to child's play." For English readers, these plays have been one of Japan's best-kept secrets--until now.

In this anthology, Hiroaki Sato translates the brilliance and richness of Yukio Mishima's writing into the English language. He has selected five major plays and three essays on dramaturgy, providing informative introductions to guide the reader. Sato's translations offer a broad historical and personal context in which those new to Mishima's work can place his writing. For those more familiar with Mishima, these translations offer another medium in which one can access his ingenious work.

Author Notes

Yukio Mishima, the pseudonym for Hiraoka Kimitake, was born in Tokyo in 1925. His work covers many styles: poetry, essays, modern Kabuki ja Noh drama, and novels. Among his masterpieces are The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and the four-volume novel Sea of Fertility, which outlines the Japanese experience in the 20th century. Each of the four volumes in this series has a distinct title--Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of Dawn, and Five Signs of a God's Decay--and they were published over a six-year period, from 1965-1970. Mishima's plays include Tenth Day Chrysanthemum, and the Kabuki piece The Moon Like a Drawn Bow.

Although Mishima was been nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, he never received it. Nevertheless, he is considered by many critics as one of the most important Japanese novelists of the 20th century.

Yukio Mishima died by his own hand in 1970, committing seppuku (ritual disembowelment).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Although best-known as a novelist, Mishima was a prolific playwright who fused centuries-old Japanese theatrical traditions with modern Western sensibilities. This volume contains six plays and several essays on the theater. The most striking example of his synthesis of old and new is A Wonder Tale, a very cinematic adaptation of another writer's story, cast in classical Kabuki style for a theater school aiming to revive a then-dying form; Mishima was the first prominent Japanese playwright in decades to compose a Kabuki play. Mishima is as comfortable with the Western genres of tragic, historical, and naturalistic domestic drama. The Rokumeikan takes a minor nineteenth-century diplomatic incident, in which Japan first asserted its power internationally, and transforms it into a Sophoclean tragedy. The Decline and Fall of the Suzaku chronicles in four beautiful acts Japan's agonies just before and after defeat in 1945. My Friend Hitler, an intense re-creation of Hitler's cold-blooded 1934 purge of Ernst Roehm and other S.A. leaders, also speaks volumes about imperial Japan's uneasy relationship with the Nazis. --Jack Helbig

Library Journal Review

Mishima's brilliant plays are unknown outside Japan, something this scholarly yet fluid English-language anthology attempts to change. The five later plays and three dramatic essays include scholarly introductions and footnotes by Sato to help readers decipher the content. Mishima's complex and well-plotted plays are drawn from various sources, but all show his idealism and loyalty to the old Japan, and the common theme of premeditated ritual in four of the five pieces seems to foretell the author's 1970 public suicide. "The Rokumenkan" shows Japan's schizophrenic split between Westernization and nationalism. In "The Decline and Fall of Suzaku," Mishima laments Japan's defeat in World War II. "The Leper King" is based upon the Cambodian legend of Jayavarman VII. "The Wonder Tale: Kabuki" tells the heroics of 12th-century Japanese warrior, Tametomo. Finally, the title piece reveals Mishima's fascination with Hitler's political "genius." In addition, the dramatic essays and a lecture given at the National Theatre demonstrate his theatrical knowledge and passion for kabuki. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Ming-ming Shen Kuo, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. VII
The Rokumeikanp. 1
Backstage Essaysp. 55
The Decline and Fall of the Suzakup. 63
My Friend Hitlerp. 113
The Terrace of the Leper Kingp. 161
The Flower of Evil: Kabukip. 219
A Wonder Tale: The Moonbowp. 241