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The dawning of a young man's homosexual and sadistic desires.

There is in this world a kind of desire like stinging pain'

A Japanese teenager is overcome with longing for his male classmate. He imagines his body punctured with arrows, like the body of St Sebastian in the painting that obsesses him. Over and over again, each night in his private fantasies, the objects of his lust are tortured, killed and maimed. But, in the rigid world of imperial wartime Japan there is no place for such transgressive desires. He must wear a false mask and hide his true nature, whatever the cost.


A terrific and astringent work of beauty

The Times Literary Supplement

Mishima is lucid in the midst of emotional confusion, funny in the midst of despair

Christopher Isherwood

Never has a "confession" been freer from self-pity

Sunday Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    September 15, 2017

    Penguin Classics

    176 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
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    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 7, 2017

    Penguin eBooks (UK Adult)

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Yukio Mishima

Five Modern No Plays
Thirst for Love
Forbidden Colours
After The Banquet
The Temple Of Dawn
The Decay Of The Angel
The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion
Runaway Horses
Spring Snow
The Sound Of Waves
The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea