“I don’t like the weak and the sick sort of people that commit suicide,” says a young man in Yukio Mishima’s “The Decay of the Angel.” “But there is one variety I accept. People who commit suicide to establish themselves.”
First published in 1971, Mishima’s final work is one of those famous books not many people have actually read. Its literary merit, at times debated, is overshadowed by the author’s suicide just after the novel’s completion, a shocking real-life exclamation mark that added to its mystique. With new Mishima oeuvre discovered this year, it is worth revisiting the last lines of a consummate artist, who ended the book knowing he would be dead by the time of its publication.