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The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

by Yukio Mishima

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,993416,255 (3.81)1 / 98
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.… (more)
  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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» See also 98 mentions

English (32)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I'm not too sure when or where this book came into my awareness but I have had it sitting on my bookcase for a few months now. I had initially planned to read Confessions of a Mask first because that was the first Mishima book which caught my attention but I felt drawn to this as my next read. I wasn't too sure whether the synopsis was something that would appeal to me but I was intrigued as to why Haruki Murakami dislikes the work on Mishima so much.

Although it is not a big book I found it slow going especially in the early chapters. I really didn't like the character of Mizoguchi and in truth I found him quite annoying. I felt similar about him as I did with Holden Caulfield when I read Catcher in the Rye, perhaps he is a character that suits younger readers more? I did find that Kashiwaga grew on me a bit despite the fact that he was portrayed as an unlikeable person, I think I felt that he was truer to life that Mizoguchi.

Another bugbear I had with the book is that it seemed to take forever to get to the conclusion of the story. I wasn't aware that the book was based on true events and so I found the build up to the climax pretty laborious. However, as the conclusion got close I started to like the book a bit more.

At the end of the day I think that this might be a bit of a love it or hate it book for a lot of people. I wouldn't go so far as to say I hated it but it didn't move me either. It was an ok read but for me nothing more than that. I am hoping that Confessions of a Mask is a bit more my kind of thing, the synopsis seems to fit me better. ( )
  Brian. | Jul 23, 2021 |
Mishima's mastery in constructing the pathology of the main character, Mizoguchi, raises disturbing questions about emotional dependence, alienation, the value of art and inheritance and the role that childhood experiences and traumas play in distorting adult behavior.

Was it the ostentation of the building, the envy of his adoration by the public or a destructive whim in the mind of an acolyte steeped in doctrine but forced to live in the present material that brought up the pyromaniac in it? ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 24, 2021 |
Mizoguchi, in his teens at the end of the war, feels he's been betrayed in just about every possible direction. By both his parents, by his religious superior, by his male friends, by women, and — of course — by the state that entered and lost the war and has left him open to humiliation at the hands of American soldiers. He stutters, he's perpetually hungry, he isn't very interested in his studies to become a Zen priest, and he's convinced that he's ugly. So, your typical happy teenage boy! By a logical process that makes complete sense to him, and apparently also to the author, he comes to the view that the only thing left for him to do is to destroy the beautiful thing that seems to be at the focal point of the values of all those lines of betrayal.

This is obviously a book that has all the elements of the postwar-adolescent-rebellion novel, and is a kind of apotheosis of the twentieth century Japanese classic (temples, voyeurism, humiliation, duckweed, tea, tatami mats, suicide, mountains, ...). It's all beautifully and very concisely executed, but it can't get round the limitation that any reader who isn't a teenager at the end of his tether is likely to see Mizoguchi's solution as both irrelevant and disproportionate to the problem he's facing. ( )
  thorold | Aug 17, 2020 |
I think I'm finally figuring out Yukio's 'move' as it were. At the end of his stories, the male character is alone, on the street, injured, and desperately, violently, alive. ( )
  adaorhell | Aug 2, 2020 |
My nature, which already tended to be dreamy, became all the more so, and thanks to the war, ordinary life receded even farther from me. For us boys, war was a dreamlike sort of experience lacking any real substance, something like an isolation ward in which one is cut off from the meaning of life.

The Temple of the Golden Pavillion is many things, but above all I was surprised how deeply and, as becomes Mishima, succinctly it described the war, not through presence but absence: for our narrator, Mizoguchi, the war is about staying behind, being pushed into a kind of surreal state of alternate existence.

Naturally, this sense of otherness and not belonging pervades the whole narrative on all levels, and it most certainly is Mishima’s forte, something Murakami has, as well. The anxiety of existential meaninglessness, the strong feeling of guilt, freedom through an act of violence, either literal or metaphorical, and life, ultimately, a never-ending, alternating movement of these dark themes.

Rewarding yet demanding, making one poor before making one abundantly rich.

17 November,
2014 ( )
  Thay1234 | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (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 (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mishima, Yukioprimary 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
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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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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