Death in Midsummer

Death in Midsummer

Summary

Bringing together Yukio Mishima's finest stories, this selection shows his extraordinary ability to depict a wide variety of human beings in moments of significance. A moonlit journey to fulfil a wish; a mother lost in mourning; a night of infidelity; and a young lieutenant who ends his life. Filled with rich description and luxurious beauty, these hauntingly beautiful short stories from one of Japan's greatest writers show the pull between duty and desire, ecstasy and death.

In the title story, 'Death in Midsummer', which is set at a beach resort, a triple tragedy becomes a cloud of doom that requires exorcising. In another, 'Patriotism', a young army officer and his wife choose a way of vindicating their belief in ancient values that is as violent as it is traditional; it prefigured his own death by seppuku in November 1970. There is a story in which the sad truth of the relationship between a businessman and his former mistress is revealed through a suggestion of the unknown, and another in which a working-class couple, touching in their simple love for each other, pursue financial security by rather shocking means.

About the author

Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima was born into a samurai family and imbued with the code of complete control over mind and body, and loyalty to the Emperor – the same code that produced the austerity and self-sacrifice of Zen. He wrote countless short stories and thirty-three plays, in some of which he acted. Several films have been made from his novels, including The Sound of Waves; Enjo, which was based on The Temple of the Golden Pavilion; and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea. Among his other works are the novels Confessions of a Mask and Thirst For Love and the short-story collections Death in Midsummer and Acts of Worship.

The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, however, is his masterpiece. After Mishima conceived the idea of The Sea of Fertility in 1964, he frequently said he would die when it was completed. On November 25th, 1970, the day he completed The Decay of the Angel, the last novel of the cycle, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide) at the age of forty-five.
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