Laurence Kominz

Date of Award

Spring 6-28-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures

Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 94 pages)


Yukio Mishima (1925-1970). Fudōtoku kyōiku kōza. English -- Criticism and interpretation, Japanese literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism, Japanese wit and humor -- 20th century -- History and criticism




From 1958 to 1959, Mishima Yukio published a series of satirical essays titled Lessons in Immorality, in the magazine Weekly Morningstar. Lessons in Immorality was made into a television series, a stage play, and a film.

Famous in the West for writing serious novels, Mishima's work as a humor writer is largely unknown. In these essays Mishima writes in a very comic style, making liberal use of hyperbole, burlesque, and travesty, in order to parody and satirize contemporary Japanese morality. Mishima uses humor to create a world in which Mishima Yukio, iconoclastic author and pop-culture figure, is an arbiter of his own honest and just morality that runs counter to the norms that Japanese at that time considered to be honest and just.

Additionally, Mishima used Lessons in Immorality as a forum to discuss some of the serious concerns that are central to his famous novels. Because Mishima was writing for young men and women, he wrote about his complex philosophical and aesthetic ideals in a very humorous and accessible style. Thus, in addition to displaying Mishima's talent as a humor writer, these essays also give the reader fresh perspectives on Mishima's serious literature.

In this paper, I will present the writing styles, rhetorical tools, and philosophical discussions from Lessons in Immorality that I believe make the series essential reading for anyone interested in Mishima or postwar Japanese literature.

Persistent Identifier