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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - "The Death of Mishima" (1971) Summary & Analysis

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The death by seppuku of Yukio Mishima, in which the 45-year-old writer eviscerated himself by sword in the presence of a Japanese general (and was then beheaded), was the climax to a sort of Hemingway-esque career more about action than letters. After all, Vidal tells the reader, "Hemingway never wrote a good novel." In a nation where a surprising number of people seem to resemble one another, and where the country is kind of a large family, Mishima was a famous writer but second in status to W. Somerset Maugham, according to Vidal.

Vidal notes that Mishima's novels are "pervaded with death," and his last, Sun and Steel published a few months before his suicide, eerily foreshadowed his own death. Although not a great novelist, Vidal says Mishima probably made greater literary contributions through his reworking of the traditional...

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This section contains 308 words
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