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The Sea of Fertility 
by Yukio Mishima.
Secker/Penguin, 821 pp., £18, July 1985, 0 436 28160 0
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Mishima on Hagakure 
by Yukio Mishima.
Penguin, 144 pp., £2.95, May 1985, 0 14 004923 1
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The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima 
by Henry Scott Stokes.
Penguin, 271 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 14 007248 9
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... Fifteen years after his death Mishima is everywhere. Penguin has just brought out Hagakure, Mishima’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the 18th-century code of samurai ethics, and The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima by Henry Scott Stokes, and Secker and Warburg Mishima’s tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility, in one attractive volume. At this year’s Cannes Film Festival an American film, Mishima, by Paul Schrader caused considerable controversy; and in the spring I saw in Paris Jean-Louis Barrault’s company performing Mishima’s Modern Noh Plays, beautifully translated by Marguerite Yourcenar and directed with iconoclastic verve by Maurice Béjart ...

Michi and Meiji

Nobuko Albery, 24 July 1986

Principles of Classical Japanese Literature 
edited by Earl Miner.
Princeton, 281 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 691 06635 3
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The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature 
by Earl Miner, Hiroko Odagiri and Robert Morrell.
Princeton, 570 pp., £39.50, March 1986, 0 691 06599 3
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Mitford’s Japan: The Memoirs and Recollections, 1866-1906, of Algernon Bertram Mitford, the First Lord Redesdale 
edited by Hugh Cortazzi.
Athlone, 270 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11275 2
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... I once received this stern admonition from an English editor: ‘If you intend to be a Japanese novelist whom we are translating into English, okay – I accept your manuscript as it is and will get on with publication. But if you wish to be considered an English writer, then you must rewrite. Don’t narrate to us, show us. And-then-and-then is not the way we want a story told ...

Getting on

Humphrey Carpenter, 18 July 1985

In the Dark 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 230 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780224022927
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A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 153 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 241 11532 9
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Midnight Mass 
by Peter Bowles.
Peter Owen, 190 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 7206 0647 0
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The Silver Age 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 186 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02316 0
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The House of Kanze 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7126 0850 8
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... of the writer anxious to avoid repetition and in search of message: the pitfalls are notorious. Nobuko Albery, a Japanese married to an Englishman, has already written a novel set in contemporary Japan*: now she has produced what the jacket describes as a ‘Saga’ of that country in the 14th century. The publishers are misleading us: it is not a saga ...

Yak Sandwiches

Christopher Burns, 31 March 1988

Pleasure 
by John Murray.
Aidan Ellis, 233 pp., £10.50, October 1987, 0 85628 167 0
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Absurd Courage 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 254 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7126 1149 5
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Laing 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 302 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 333 45633 5
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The Part of Fortune 
by Laurel Goldman.
Faber, 249 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 571 14921 9
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In the Fertile Land 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 85635 716 2
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... than Murray’s characters. Lord William Arthur Valerian Pommeroy is the hippy aristocrat who, in Nobuko Albery’s Absurd Courage, becomes so fascinated by Oriental thought that he founds a kind of guerrilla priesthood, the World Elsewhere. For him, emulation becomes immolation. Literally. A more interesting character, however, is Asako, narrator of the ...

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