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Andrew Rankin: Yukio Mishima’s Philosophy of Beauty

16.05.2018 | 16:00 c.t.

Beauty, as a concept, is ubiquitous in the writings of Yukio Mishima (1925–1970). Mishima is tirelessly obsessed with the category of experiences he calls bi (beauty), with objects and people he considers utsukushii (beautiful), and with modes of action he considers biteki (beauty-oriented/aesthetic).

Mishima’s statements on beauty, however, are often difficult to comprehend. Mishima says he loves beauty because it is the value through which he asserts his will to power, but at the same time he resents beauty because it forces him to subordinate himself to it. Mishima wants to confine beauty safely within prescribed forms, yet also he dreams of drowning in an unstoppable tsunami of beauty. At other times Mishima pursues beauty as an extreme experience in which ecstasy coincides with agony, or where a distinction between the two becomes untenable.

This talk will attempt to elucidate Mishima’s philosophy of beauty, taking examples from his works in all genres.


Andrew Rankin is an independent researcher based in Tokyo. He earned his doctorate in modern Japanese literature from the University of Cambridge. His books include Seppuku: A History of Samurai Suicide (2011) and Mishima, Aesthetic Terrorist: An Intellectual Portrait (2018).

Zeit & Ort

16.05.2018 | 16:00 c.t.

Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften
Fabeckstr. 23 - 25 (Holzlaube)
Raum 0.2051
14195 Berlin

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Prof. Dr. Elena Giannoulis (elena.giannoulis@fu-berlin.de)