Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death in November, 1970), along with more than forty play, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes and hundreds of essays. Influenced by European literature, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan's ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He had sung on the stage, starred in and directed movies and was a noted practitioner of Japan's traditional martial arts. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he committed suicide by ceremonial seppuku.
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