Author: Yukio Mishima.
Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics.
Published: 1949/ 2017.
A reissue of the classic novel by Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who explores his sexual identity and his own psyche.
The novel begins with Kochan, as a boy, when he perceives a sweaty man carrying manure down the road. It is a life changing moment for him as from that point on, Kochan becomes intrigued with imagery that he finds sexually desirable. He becomes attracted to art depicting violence against men, male suffrage, and other torturous fantasies. He, of course, keeps these desires to himself as he knows that homosexuality, as well as his dark fantasies, are transgressive in imperial Japan.
The rest of the story follows him as he explores his inner psyche and the psychology of his own mind, his desires and where he fits in the world. The writing style is oppressive, which parallels with the entrapment Kochan feels in his mind, and within his society. He dates girls his own age and, although he feels emotionally drawn to them, he knows that his sexual impulses are purely surrounding men.
The narrative itself is set in World War Two Japan, providing an interesting look at life during this time from the Axis side. Kochan himself cannot fight in the war due to a weakness in his health, and because of his lust for death and viewing suffering, he feels as if his life is wasted.
It is extremely progressive for the time is was published, and it delivers a piece that reflects the claustrophobia of Imperial Japan in terms of sexuality, and in terms of the war.