Yukio Mishima in “Public War”

  As one of Japan’s most famous post-war writers, Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) not only dazzled the Japanese literary world, but also was a “genius” in the eyes of Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata, who “is rare in two or three hundred years”. He also enjoys a high reputation internationally. He wrote 21 novels, more than 80 short stories, and 33 plays, of which 10 have been adapted into movies and 36 have been staged. 7 won various literary awards. He is the Japanese contemporary writer whose works have been translated into English and other foreign languages.
  For many Japanese literature lovers in China, the past 2021 is obviously a year full of surprises. As Mishima Yukio officially became a “public writer”, within a year, Guomai Culture, Yazhong Culture, One Page folio, Zitu Books, Duke Culture, Xinhua Pioneer… Publishing institutions and publishing brands are all scrambling to create and launch new versions of Yukio Mishima’s works: “Kinkakuji”, “Confessions of a Mask” and “Chaosao”, which are well-known in China, even launched more than a dozen at once. A variety of versions, dizzying. In my country, the writer’s various works occupy a high position in the hearts of many traditional literature and Japanese literature lovers. Except for the most famous “Kinkakuji”, there are four “Confessions of a Mask”, “Chaosao” and “Sea of ​​Plenty”. Songs and other works are also familiar to everyone, which makes the “public version war” against Mishima Yukio’s works worthy of the name, both in terms of publishing volume and planning and publicity. The single-product competition of Ruack’s “On the Road” widened the gap, and as a result, a boutique series like “Yukio Mishima Bunko Collection” by One Page folio was born. By examining and comparing the promotional texts and binding designs of the new editions of Yukio Mishima’s works, we can not only see the innovations in the design concepts of these new editions, but also help to understand the vision of domestic readers in recent years. Changes in image cognition of Yukio Naka Mishima and his works.

Mishima Yukio
Propaganda Text: “Master of Literature” and “Godfather of Wenqing”

  In terms of content components, the promotional texts selected for the sale of books are also complex and special texts, and in the current marketization, their connection with writers and works is sometimes inextricable. They not only cover and reflect the positioning and appearance of writers and works in the eyes of planners and other readers, but also can change rapidly before the translation as the times change, which is an important factor in understanding the images of writers and works in the eyes of readers. refer to. Since many of Yukio Mishima’s works have already been selected and published by “giants” such as Shanghai Translation Publishing House and People’s Literature Publishing House in China, each new edition in this “public edition war” is in order to be able to To stand out, the first thing to consider is how to distinguish itself from the old version, and clearly show the design concept of inheriting the tradition and fitting the current. In this regard, the most convenient way is to change the propaganda text. Compared with the brief and restrained publicity and introduction of Yukio Mishima and his works by several old-fashioned publishers, almost every new edition has made great efforts in this regard: most of them have prepared all kinds of exquisite works for this purpose. The propaganda posters of 2009 have different text emphases, and sometimes there will be a large span between different versions. However, looking at the promotional texts of each new version of the works, we can basically see a relatively similar text style, and we can see the mixed application of three different design concepts.

Yukio Mishima’s entrance photo (1931)

  First of all, the first concept calls for highlighting Yukio Mishima’s identity as a literary master, honoring his important position in Japanese literature and even world literature, and constantly “canonizing” him and his works. For example, in the introductions of writers from publishing institutions and publishing brands such as Democracy and Construction Press, Beijing Institute of Technology Press, Yazhong Culture, etc., Yukio Mishima is mostly defined as a “literary master” or a “famous writer”. More is the number of times he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, his reputation at home and abroad (“The Proud of Japanese Traditional Literature”, “Japanese Hemingway”) and so on. Judging from the introduction of “Spring Snow” by the Democracy and Construction Publishing House, highlighted words such as “becoming the work with the highest Nobel Prize”, “a model of immortality” praised by Yasunari Kawabata, “a textbook-style taboo love” And so on, all of them show the tendency to “classicize” the works. In fact, this kind of text itself is not innovative, but on the basis of the more restrained and neutral introduction in the past, it further emphasizes the writer’s literary status, the influence of the work, various awards and celebrity evaluations, and the translator’s translation. authority and other factors. However, this repeated certification of the writer and his works in the world literary circle and in the classic sequence of world literature does reflect the increasingly stable status of Mishima Yukio in the hearts of domestic readers.
  Second, it is still “canonization”, but it is different from the first “canonization”. The second “canonization” ultimately requires distinction from other literary classics. It is more delicate and targeted. It requires Mark Yukio Mishima’s unique creative style and work characteristics. Following this line of thinking, Yukio Mishima is more known as a “rare ghost in the literary world” (reading culture) or a “weird ghost” (Xinhua Pioneer), who is “using gorgeous language armor, wrapped in slender, A lonely modern artist with a fragile body” (cited by the Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House from the Japanese critic Hidekatsu Nojima), whose works are summarized as “Mishima Yukio Literary Universe” (one-page folio), the propaganda of fruit and wheat culture The poster even extracted various modifiers of “Mishima-style”: “beauty and violence”, “desire and purity”, “arrogance and sensitivity”… This “classical” propaganda text is more in-depth and responsible, it not only It points out the stylistic features of Yukio Mishima’s works, and tries to explore the formal beauty of the text and the deep meaning behind it, so as to reveal the aesthetic and philosophical significance of the works for new readers. Although different readers have different opinions, the general use of such propaganda texts in each new edition undoubtedly shows that readers have deepened their understanding of Yukio Mishima as a writer and his works in recent years.

Mishima Yukio

  Finally, to present Yukio Mishima’s multiple identities outside of the writer, and to give the writer’s various actions a legend and a contemporary color at the same time, this is the most innovative idea of ​​each new version in terms of propaganda texts . After listing Yukio Mishima’s “cat slave”, “fitness expert”, “film director” and a series of identities, Gomai Culture called it: “A multi-resident human being who has brought all his interests to the extreme for 45 years.” Bamboo Stone Culture directly marked the identities of “Wenqing Godfather” and “Fitness Blogger” in the writer’s profile, and provided a “must-read” for “hot topic writers across station B, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu”. reason”. Zitu Books not only exaggeratedly called the family “the god of literary youth” and “suicidal maniac” (see the girdle of “The Five Decays of Heaven and Man”), but also adopted an example such as “He made Japan a masterpiece based on the influence of “Golden Pavilion” alone. Literature has been pushed from the island country to the C position in the world literary world”. In order to attract more young readers, these propaganda texts try to establish a connection between various new phenomena, new ideas and the original image elements of the writers and works, thus showing a clear openness in content and narrative methods Diversified characteristics. This kind of diversified design concept seems to be contrary to the above two “canonization” routes, but it can actually be regarded as another variant of “canonization”: with the above-mentioned fruit and wheat culture to writers To summarize as an example, whether it is the number of years in it (a short 45 years), the type of interests involved (cat breeding, fitness, acting, etc.), or the level achieved (“to the extreme”), there is still an effort to show the reader a writer The legend of , and its ultimate direction is still a kind of “classic” or “example”. As of the end of January 2021, Guomai Culture’s “The Golden Pavilion” has been evaluated by nearly 3,000 people on Douban, with a score of 8.9. This data has surpassed many others, including the paperback and hardcover versions of the People’s Literature Publishing House. Version. ——It is true that such achievements are not necessarily related to the propaganda text, but I am afraid that few readers will buy the book when they know and dislike it. It can be seen that such texts and the new image of Yukio Mishima they outline have gained a certain degree of acceptance. With the continuous dissemination and reading of excellent sellers in each new edition, the number of new readers who begin to contact the writer under the influence of this design concept will continue to increase, and the image of the writer himself and his works will become more diversified in the future.

Cover Design: “Simple Moderation” and “Gorgeous Violence”

  In addition to the promotional text, such as cover, format, paper and other binding designs can also clearly reflect the design concept of the planning and publishing party. Among them, the most important is the cover design. As the most obvious “subtext” in the binding design, the cover design always completes the expression of the writer and the core of the work in silence. By examining the differences between the cover design of each new edition and the previous editions, it is also possible to get a glimpse of the changes in the readers’ perception of the author and the image of the work. Compared with various promotional texts that are more or less expressed by the three design concepts, a well-functioning and eye-catching cover design can actually more effectively show the uniqueness of its own version and quickly distance itself from other versions. If the cover design styles of each version of Yukio Mishima’s works are divided into two extremes, one end should be labeled “simple and restrained”, and the other end should be labeled “bright and violent”. This “public version war” has brought very representative and excellent designs to both ends (especially the latter).

“The Golden Pavilion” Chinese version

  The cover designs promoted by Shanghai Translation Publishing House and People’s Literature Publishing House have long been the representatives of the “simple and restrained” end, and among many new editions, the cover of the Mishima Yukio series produced by Yazhong Culture is the most similar to them. approximate. However, unlike the uniform colors given by the two old publishing houses to Yukio Mishima’s paperback and hardcover series, designer Ma Shirui chose a unique color for the cover of each work, whether it is “Golden Pavilion” The “Broken Gold” of “Spring Snow” or the “Sakura Shell Color” of “Spring Snow” are closely related to the theme of his works. On the one hand, this style of cover design continues the classic cover style of “simple and restrained” in the past, and on the other hand, it also prepares unique and hidden details for different works. Taking the cover of “Love Hunger” as an example, the background color of the “dark red” color paper, the prominent light-colored cracks in the middle, the large-sized Japanese title and author’s name in pure black, these elements combine to be simple and elegant. Powerful, alluding to the repressed desires of the protagonist and the blood-filled ending in the novel. The final effect of these covers, as Ma Shirui himself hoped, is the restraint and condensation of the designer’s desire to express, and it is “a design that has gone through the times and de-symbolized.” At the other end of the spectrum, in stark contrast to the cover design of both the old edition and Mashirai, is the “Mishima Yukio Bunko Collection” by One Page folio, a series of covers that is an example of the “bright and violent” style. . Unlike Ma Shirui’s restraint in expressing the “surging power” in the writer’s words, in order to express the “bright and rich colors” of Yukio Mishima’s works in his mind, the designer Xihe chose to directly use “strong color blocks of different shapes”. “. When all 16 kinds of the series are spread out, readers can enjoy a wild and splashing color feast: the covers of each novel are basically composed of dark blue and red orange, with a clear contrast between cold and warm colors; The cover is different from other novels, the main body is covered with a large area of ​​gray, and is matched with purple, yellow, red, and blue respectively; the covers of the three plays are mainly purple, pink, and white; the only essay The cover of the episode “Apollo’s Cup” featured floating cyans, greens and yellows. The overlapping of these contrasting or complementary color blocks reflects the inherent logic and randomness of the genre classification of the works almost by themselves, plus the pattern image they form with the title text and the content of the work. Subtle echoes (such as the beach and foam of “The Tide”, the intercourse of the hands on the cover of “The Marquise of Sade”) are excellent even when taken out as a work of art on their own.

Mishima Yukio and Kawabata Yasunari

  In fact, whether it is divided into the two ends of “simple and restrained” and “gorgeous and violent”, or placed in any position between the two ends, the cover design style of each new version is basically the same as that of the old classic cover design. There is a big difference, and they are obviously more inclined to “beautiful and violent”. This turn is in line with the innovative direction of the propaganda text, which also follows the above-mentioned three progressive “classical” design concepts. However, in the cover design, the first two design concepts for the writer and the work itself are more at work, and the second one is more in-depth. In all the new editions, the one-page folio has brought such in-depth “classic” design concept into full play through the ingenious design of the inner and outer envelopes. For the inner cover, the classic plain color style of the Japanese Bunko is prepared, expressing the classical style of “simple restraint”. Just as one page of folio’s introduction to its own design ingenuity: “beauty and violence, extreme beauty and quietness, the fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics, and the aesthetic creed of Mishima”, whether it is “simple and restrained” or “gorgeous and violent” On the aesthetic level, these two styles can actually be felt in the works of Mishima Yukio. These two styles are so subtly displayed on the inner and outer covers, and integrated into the overall binding of the 64-kilogram library book, – this design concept and its success are not only the traditional literary book cover design style The overall trend of diversification An example proves and undoubtedly reflects the deep cognition of domestic readers to the writer’s contradictory and complex creative style. In the next 2023, Kawabata Yasunari, who is more well-known in China, will also become a “public version writer”. In the “public version war” at that time, similar “classic” design concepts and their new changes will appear again. Readers will have to wait and see what kind of new image the author and his works will take.