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The Temple of the Golden Pavilion Paperback – October 4, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752707
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Beautifully translated... Mishima re-erects Kyoto, plain and mountain, monastery, temple, town, as Victor Hugo made Paris out of Notre Dame."

-- The Nation

"An amazing literary feat in its minute delineation of a neurotic personality."

-- Chicago Tribune

Translated from the Japanese by Ivan Morris

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

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Customer Reviews

In this book, we can see how a mind can be driven along to evil through obsession.
T. Hooper
Since he has been cast out of the world, he comes to believe that the world is a beautiful and good place in which he does not belong.
A. Bond
All in all, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a remarkable book, and I recommend it strongly to anyone who considers reading it.
"g33kgrrlpi"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 85 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on September 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Temple of the Golden Pavillion is an excellent psychological novel. In this book, we can see how a mind can be driven along to evil through obsession.
The main character of this book is Mizoguchi. He is the son of a poor rural priest. He is taken by his dying father to become an acolyte at the Temple of the Golden Pavillion. All throughout his childhood, his father had told him about the spledid beauty of this temple. Mizoguchi builds up an image of ideal beauty in his mind based on this Golden Pavillion. However, this ideal image causes him to feel disappointed in any supposed form of beauty, including women and even the actual physical Golden Pavillion. Nothing can live up to this image of supreme beauty.
As he enters university, he comes under the influence of Kashiwagi, a fellow student with a very bitter view of life. Under this influence, Mizoguchi's dark feelings bubble up inside him. One of my favorite parts is Mizoguchi and Kashiwagi's discussion of knowledge and action. Kashiwagi asserts that an unbearable life can be made bearable by just having the knowledge that it is unchangable. However, Mizoguchi argues that knowledge is a dead thing, and that only action to change to change an unbearable life can make it bearable. This attitude leads him to his final desperate attack.
I think that this book is particularly important in this age of terrorism. Often people ask why do terrorist do what they do, and they ask this because they don't understand the obsession (whether in ideal beauty as in this book, or with fundamentalist religion as in the case with terrorists), the hopelessness, and the desperation that they feel. I think if you read this book, you can understand how a mind is turned to evil acts through these means.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
This novel is a good example of a theme that frequently arises in Mishima's work: the resentment of the object of desire. Mizoguchi, the protagonist, is overwhelmed by the beauty of the golden temple and learns to resent it through the guru-like counsel of a friend. Over and over, Mizoguchi feels overwhelmed and made insignificant by the beautiful things in his new life as a monk: the beautiful temple, sexual possibility, and ultimately, his autonomy, perhaps even his life. This book, arguably Mishima's best, may well have been another one of the author's suicide rehearsals, and the unforgettable psychological impact of the book is that of a legendary storyteller demonstrating his Hamlet-like "north-by-northwest" madness. Technically, this is an amazing book, dripping with evocative, beautiful imagery and reminds me of a movie in its directorial-like descriptive method, its forceful 'mis en scene'. Artistically, I suspect Mishima was trying to compete with his great literary forefather Kawabata by playing with western ideas of the apolonean, further fueling his hopelessness and his rage with his art and with himself, but that is a bit academic and beyond my ability to determine. Ultimately, I cherish this book for its tortured explanation of the harshness love and beauty cruelly impose, a feral scream quietly hidden in the drug-like beauty of a book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Kohn on July 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Although Mishima is one of my favorite authors I am having difficulty getting through this work, largely because of the terminology the translator has used. An otherwise excellent translation is marred by an appalling lack of understanding of Buddhism. Throughout the text on finds terms such as "scripture", "priest", "parishioner", and "mass" -- as if the subject were Roman Catholicism. This kind of metaphor reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the practice of Buddhism, which is annoying to this reader and would be misleading to others.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ColdSummers on May 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
If ever criticized, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima is chided most frequently for some of its seemingly mundane, superfluous and repetitive details and paragraphs. Many give up, or decide not to read it at all, since the text appears heavy and unmanageable from the very first page. However, after analyzing the book and enduring challenges, one should come to realize the book's deeper meanings.

Mishima's writing is filled with archetypes and symbols that reoccur throughout the novel which may seem repetitive, but are utterly paramount and necessary to encourage deeper thought within the reader. After studying a chapter or two, one can make connections using these archetypes as a guide to interpret the book. For example, the seasons and the weather reflect the state of mind of the protagonist, Mizoguchi. Descriptive words such as "brilliant" and "bright" are premonitions of future events. Other distinctly repeated archetypes include colors, water and fire (they are repeated for the sake of emphasis), which help the reader to stay intact with the extraordinary world that Mishima creates.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is famous for mind-boggling its readers. A way one can come to terms with the frequent juxtapositions in the book is by researching a little about the author's background. Then, one will realize that Mishima incorporated his own philosophies and experiences in the character of Mizoguchi (which resulted in an active voice in its narrations: almost as if Mishima was talking to you personally). This may explain why the book seems abstract yet realistic, absurd yet understandable. Some characteristics of Mizoguchi we can relate with--others are puzzling and enigmatic.
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