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The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion by Yukio…

The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion (edition 2001)

by Yukio Mishima

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1,469235,082 (3.85)1 / 76
Title:The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion
Authors:Yukio Mishima
Info:Vintage Classics (2001), Edition: 32nd Printing, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:KEN - NAI
Tags:Japan, read

Work details

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima

  1. 00
    After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima (GYKM)
    GYKM: Another Mishima novel that he based on a real event.
  2. 00
    Silk and Insight by Yukio Mishima (GYKM)
    GYKM: Another Mishima novel based on a real event.
  3. 00
    The Age of Blue by Yukio Mishima (GYKM)
    GYKM: Written in the same decade, but was based around a different real-life crime.
  4. 00
    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (GYKM)
    GYKM: Like Truman Capote ten years later, Mishima not only conducted research into the crime that he would base his psychological novel on, but he also interviewed the arsonist.

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English (18)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Young Mizoguchi tells the reader right away that he is ugly and a stutterer, which makes him, in his eyes, a cripple also. His self-loathing leads to his isolation from other children but develops into a desire to be despised as he grows into a teenager. Over a course of perhaps five years, from the last years of WWII to the years immediately after, the reader follows Mizoguchi through the loss of his father, to his acceptance into Zen training, and his thoughts which become more twisted as he at first is obsessed with the beauty of the Golden Temple, then believes the temple is actively working against him, like a human enemy.

This was published in 1959, but I don't know when the first English translation was published. It's a fictionalized account of a true story, about a young man who burned down the 500 year-old temple of Kinkakuji in Kyoto in 1950 because he envied the temple for its beauty.
The Mizoguchi the reader first meets is young and unhappy and we see him lashing out in ways that he won't be caught. There's an immaturity in his anger. As he gets older, the reader sees his anger grow, though he takes time to work out in his head why he's doing the wrong thing. His behavior, which is usually aimed at making another person hate him, including the Superior of his temple, is made worse when he befriends the manipulative boy Kashiwagi.

The second story about coming undone connected with this book has to do with the author. Mishima was a popular and highly regarded writer, playwright, director, actor and model. That's him on the book cover. He received three nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature over his career. But in the late 60's he began body-building and living by the ancient code of the samurai. He was publicly critical of Emperor Hirohito's actions after Japan's defeat in WWII. He began forming and training his own private militia. On November 25th, 1970, Mishima and a few of his soldiers made their way into the offices at the Tokyo grounds of the real military. They tied up the officials, then Mishima addressed the troops from the Commandant's balcony, trying to persuade them to join his troop and overthrow the government. When his speech didn't work, he went back into the office, performed seppuku (ritual disemboweling) on himself, and his second decapitated him. Which also didn't go as planned, but eventually got done. ( )
  mstrust | Aug 14, 2014 |
I did not like this book. First of all it was hard to get into becauseof the style of writing. When reading the book I found out that the subject / main story line was not very interesting or understandable to me.

I usually like Asian writers and their style, but this book did nothing for me. A student-priest, coming of age, fascination for a temple, I simply don't understand. Too bad, because I had been looking forward to read this book: the text on the back suggested it could be very intersting. Just not to me. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jun 5, 2013 |
I enjoyed this book for the descriptive writing and the evocation of place that the author created. I particularly liked the night scene where the narrator, Mizoguchi, follows Uiko. The passage where he walks to the Sea of Japan from Maizuru was also very well done.

However... I did not really understand Mizoguchi's motivation in just about anything that he did and found him a completely unsympathetic character. The resolution of the final crisis has left me unmoved and glad that I've finished so that I can move on to something else. Which isn't to say that this is a bad book, just one that I didn't entirely connect with.

As an aside, the blurb on this edition is not correct as Mizoguchi's stammer was congenital and had already affected him before he witnessed his mother with another man. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Mar 29, 2013 |
This book, which takes a real incident as its starting point, gave me the claustrophobic feeling of entering into the extremely disturbed mind of an extremely unstable young man, Mizoguchi, a student both in a Zen temple and in a Buddhist university who is obsessed by the beauty of the Golden Temple where he studies. On one level, the novel is the story of how he progressively becomes more disturbed, both more detached from reality and more willing to do things that are clearly wrong (and that on some level he knows are wrong -- in fact, sometimes he wants to do them just because they are wrong), until he commits a terrible deed because he believes it will release him from his obsession. (And, in fact, at the end, it seems to.)

And yet, I had a feeling there was a lot more going on in this book than I could grasp. There are beautiful descriptions of the natural world, and of Japanese and especially Zen traditions, but they are intercut with stark and still shocking scenes of violent behavior. The relationship of Mizoguchi to his mother (whom he detests) also seems important, but it wasn't completely clear to me how, as do his confused feelings about women and sexual relationships. He has a "good" friend and a "bad" friend, and yet things are not always what they seem to be. The bulk of the novel takes place just before and just after the end of the second world war, and the Japanese surrender, and this too seems to figure into the novel. In a sense, the Japanese surrender was an abrupt end to centuries of tradition, as is the destruction that results from Mizoguchi's final act, but that seems a little too obvious. I do think Mishima was aiming at more than the tale of a crazy young man but perhaps I am not sensitive enough to Japanese themes and ideas to understand all he was trying to do. I found the book cold and disturbing, and couldn't really get a handle on it.
2 vote rebeccanyc | Oct 20, 2012 |
Interesting and perceptive book. The idiosyncratic interpretations of Zen koans were refreshing.
  GYKM | Feb 5, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
"An amazing literary feat in its minute delineation of a neurotic personality."
added by GYKM | editChicago Tribune
"Beautifully translated... Mishima re-erects Kyoto, plain and mountain, monastery, temple, town, as Victor Hugo made Paris out of Notre Dame."
added by GYKM | editThe Nation
"One of the few genuinely surprising, subtle, complex and profound novels of ideas to have appeared since Man’s Fate" […] "Mishima has fashioned a wildly original, paradoxical series of clashing meditations and actions"
added by GYKM | editHudson Review, Sidney Monas
In July, 1950, art lovers were shocked to hear that the Kinkakuji--the Temple of the Golden Pavilion--in Kyoto had been deliberately burned by a crazed young monk. At his trial, this ugly, stammering priest said that his hatred of all beauty had driven him to destroy the six-century-old building. He expressed no regrets.

From this incident and other details of his life an engrossing novel has been written by Yukio Mishima.

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yukio Mishimaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morris, IvanTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Komatsu, FumiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwehand, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, Nancy WilsonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Ever since my childhood, Father had often spoken to me about the Golden Temple.
When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
I wanted to live.
What transforms this world is—knowledge.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679752706, Paperback)

Because of the boyhood trauma of seeing his mother make love to another man in the presence of his dying father, Mizoguchi becomes a hopeless stutterer. Taunted by his schoolmates, he feels utterly alone until he becomes an acolyte at a famous temple in Kyoto. He quickly becomes obsessed with the beauty of the temple. Even when tempted by a friend into exploring the geisha district, he cannot escape its image. In the novel's soaring climax, he tries desperately to free himself from his fixation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young man, having suffered a childhood trauma, becomes an acolyte at a famous temple in Kyoto.

(summary from another edition)

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