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The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion (edition 2001)

by Yukio Mishima

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,484255,009 (3.85)1 / 76
Member:dylanwolf
Title:The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion
Authors:Yukio Mishima
Info:Vintage Classics (2001), Edition: 32nd Printing, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:KEN - NAI
Rating:
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 (20)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Another one of Mishima's journeys into obsession. We a see a character torn between self-imposed isolation and the desire to break out. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The narrator and central character of this book doesn't see the world as I do. To him the world is replete with symbols, the importance of which often eclipse the material things that surround him. Whether it be his childhood crush Uiko, the stammering that he speaks with, or the titular temple which he obsesses over, the symbols in Mizoguchi's life are what consume much of his thoughts and dictate his actions much more so than any logical analysis of what he wants out of life. Perhaps that's how everyone really is, and they just make up a story to explain to themselves why they've done what they've done. Mizoguchi doesn't invent a story, however, he provides few explanations for his actions that stem from real life instead of the symbols that swarm through his head. It's a completely foreign way to think compared to my experience.

Additionally, Mizoguchi is more than a little bit crazy. He gets pleasure from causing pain, is constantly scheming against people and against nebulous ideas like "eternity," and he sees reality as he wants to see it, often as giving him signs encouraging him to indulge in his worst impulses. He snatches the idea of a mission of destruction out of thin air (we readers can invent reasons for it, but the text doesn't give enough to fully support any rationale we may conceive) and carries it out, to the detriment of himself perhaps more than anyone else. While the story ends with Mizoguchi claiming to have found a new will to live, there's nothing to suggest that this impulse is more than transitory, or that his life going forward will be any less destructive now that he's had a taste of it.

You would think that this main character, who has a bizarre worldview and is a few cards shy of a full deck, would be an intriguing character, but I wasn't that interested in Mizoguchi's machinations. I don't require a protagonist that thinks or acts like me, but Mizoguchi was so alien to me that his everyday experiences failed to resonate. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion recounts his entire childhood, but his childhood experiences were so laden with symbols and thoughts on beauty that there was nothing that I could see myself in, nothing that related to my childhood. Proust and Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping) present characters growing up with thoughts and lives far different from my own, but that I can still respond to both emotionally and intellectually. Mishima fails to do this here. Unfortunately, outside of some well-written descriptive passages (especially concerning the temple itself), if you don't find Mizoguchi's life and thoughts interesting there's nothing here. I wouldn't call this a bad book, as someone with a different worldview might find that this book really speaks to them, but for me this book was silent, and so I can only rate it as I do all texts I end up largely indifferent to.

Something that I'm a bit quizzical about is that The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, much like Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, doesn't ever directly communicate that the narrator's mindset is harmful and not something to be admired. It's easy enough to draw the message out from the text, given the character's actions (just like it's possible to understand how destructive the feeling of being apart from society and an unearned sense of superiority can be by looking at the fates of the main characters in TSWFfGwtS) but I worry that most people won't think that deeply about the end result of what they've just read and leave this book thinking that Mizoguchi's ramblings on beauty, eternity, and freedom are a fine way to look at the world. A less sympathetic tone could have made the message clearer, but that wouldn't have fit with the main character serving as the narrator. Nor should Mishima have to dumb down his books so that readers can get the lesson. Nevertheless I worry that because of how it was presented here many readers will put down this book thinking exactly the opposite of what the actions of the main character, when looked at by a mentally stable person, justify. ( )
  BayardUS | Jan 10, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Ever since my childhood, Father had often spoken to me about the Golden Temple.
Quotations
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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