Death in Midsummer and other stories

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First edition

Death in Midsummer and other stories is a 1953 collection of stories by Yukio Mishima translated into English in 1966. It contains one play, Dōjōji, based on a drama of that name.

Stories[edit]

  • Death in Midsummer. A middle-class family goes on vacation to a beach resort, a decision which leads to the deaths of two children and the aunt who was minding them. Issues of power structures between the parents rise until finally the mother and father return to the beach where their young children had died. Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker.
  • Three Million Yen. A young couple roams a department store, bickering about finances and trying to kill time until they meet with an unknown woman. They talk of children and saving enough to begin their adult lives. When the reader finally encounters the unknown woman, it transpires that the couple are being paid to have sex in front of upper-class clientele. The story plays on the contrast between the conservatism of the young couple and the disreputable way in which they make their living. Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker.
  • Thermos Flasks. A man passing through San Francisco after a long business trip encounters a former lover, and they spend the night together. On his return to Japan he realises by indirect means that he is not the only one who has been unfaithful. Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker.
  • The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love. This fairy tale, set against the background of Pure Land Buddhism, concerns a venerable priest who falls in love with the Imperial Concubine after a single glance and loses his grip on Enlightenment. Translated by Ivan Morris.
  • The Seven Bridges. On the night of the September full moon, four geisha, Koyumi, Masako, Kanako and Mina, set out to cross seven bridges without stopping or speaking, in the hope that the Moon will grant their wishes. Translated by Donald Keene.
  • Patriotism. On 28 February 1936, Lt. Shinji Takeyama and his wife Reiko commit ritual suicide in the wake of the Ni Ni Roku Incident. The story is a detailed and highly idealised description of seppuku. Translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent.
  • Dōjōji. A "modern play" based on an old play of the same name. The auction of an immense wardrobe with a bell carved on the front is interrupted by a dancer, Kiyoko, who tells a bizarre tale of its sinister past. Translated by Donald Keene.
  • Onnagata. Mangiku, an onnagata (male actor who takes female roles), meekly submits to the instructions of a modernist director. Translated by Donald Keene.
  • The Pearl. The loss of one of Mrs Sasaki's pearls during the course of her 43rd birthday party eventually causes two of her friends to fall out and another two to make up. Translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent.
  • Swaddling Clothes. A young woman is haunted by the sight of a newborn baby wrapped in newspaper. Translated by Ivan Morris.

Some stories had appeared previously in Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, Japan Quarterly, and Today's Japan. "The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love" appeared in the UNESCO collection Modern Japanese Stories.