First published by the celebrated Japanese author in 1961, this novella explores the mindset of a popular film star named Rikio Mizuno and his relationship with his unattractive but confident assistant.
Star is rendered in exacting contemporary prose. The sentences are generally short and declarative, and the word choice is refreshingly mundane. This linguistic spareness allows the heated subject matter of Star to emanate through the cracks of the sentences ... This complex, psychological portrait of celebrity is a propulsive, enduring narrative that eerily predicts our contemporary digital tensions of the self ... In this way, though written nearly sixty years ago, far before the advent of social media celebrity culture, Star speaks to our modern contradictions of the inner and outer self masterfully. It also accomplishes a fascinating and singular interrogation of power, and how, whether by wealth or physical attractiveness or fame, people are able to build a delusional world for themselves in which they believe they share nothing, including death, with the rest of humanity.
The novella Star, first published in Japanese in 1961, gives an apt introduction to Mishima’s preoccupations, but should be viewed as no more than an introduction to his greatness ... All of [Mishima's] work is punctuated by suicide, and it is peopled with masks, with people knowing they are nothing but masks, who are aware that the center doesn’t hold because there is no center, that character is a flowing fixture, a paradoxical constancy and a definite variable, always ... like Robert Musil, Mishima imagines a man without qualities by writing a prose of such stupendous qualities that, in this case, I found myself unwittingly reading aloud in public the beautifully refined phrases, to the frowning faces of my fellow subway passengers or café companions. A moment Mishima would have cherished ... Even if Star is a relatively minor work in the pantheon of Mishima’s greatness, it is an exquisite contemplation of existence and death, and Mishima’s prose is extremely powerful and the translation finely executed.
Star is short even for a novella, but quite effective as (self-)portrait of a pop star—one that feels strikingly current and familiar, too, despite having been first published more than fifty years ago ... Mishima nicely captures this alter-world of stardom, his observations convincing ... Star is a compact, short tale, but Mishima presents a full and convincing character- (and condition-) portrait in this sharp little novella.