Translated into English for the first time, a gripping short novel about an affair gone wrong, from the acclaimed Japanese author, Yukio Mishima.
Set in rural Japan shortly after World War II, The Frolic of the Beasts tells the story of a strange and utterly absorbing love triangle between a former university student, Kōji; his would-be mentor, the eminent literary critic Ippei Kusakado; and Ippei’s beautiful, enigmatic wife, Yūko.
When brought face-to-face with one of Ippei’s many marital indiscretions, Kōji finds his growing desire for Yūko compels him to action in a way that changes all three of their lives profoundly.
Below is a short excerpt
‘Kōji thought about the sunlight that shone brightly into the connecting corridor that led to the bathhouse, cascading over the windowsill, spreading out like a sheet of white glossy paper. He didn’t know why, but he had humbly, passionately loved the light streaming down through that window.
It was divine favor, truly pure—dismembered, like the white body of a slain infant. Leaning against the handrail on the upper deck, he marveled at how the abundant early-summer morning sun that his body now comfortably soaked up was at this very instant, in some remote place, joining with the small, exalted, and fragmented sunlight of his memories. It was difficult to believe that this sunlight and the other were of the same substance.
If he were to trace the diffuse light in front of him, as though reaching hand over hand for a great, sparkling banner, would he eventually touch the tip of a hard, pure tassel of sunlight? And if so, was that pure tassel tip the far, far end of the sunlight? Or was it the distant origin itself of the abundant sunlight right in front of him?
Kōji was traveling aboard the Ryūgū Maru 20, which had departed from Numazu bound for West Izu. The back-to-back benches on the upper deck were sparsely occupied, and the canvas awning sang in the breeze. On the shore, fantastically shaped rocks soared precipitously like a black castle, and high above in the sky, bright cumulus clouds drifted about in disarray. Kōji’s hair was not yet long enough to be disturbed by the persistent wind.’
Originally published in 1961 and now available in English for the first time, The Frolic of the Beasts is a haunting examination of the various guises we assume throughout our lives, and a tale of psychological self-entrapment, seduction, and murder.
About the author
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 forty-five and the day after completing the last novel in the Fertility series, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide)—a spectacular death that attracted worldwide attention.
Available in Paperback and Ebook
Nov 27, 2018| 176 Pages