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5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, disturbing, and beautiful vision - great insight into the author himself, 1 Mar. 2015
‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’, is one of the most known books of Yukio Mishima. It presents a dark vision, and is a purely beautiful and utterly disturbing novel. It shows beauty and destruction, dedication and cruelty, sacrifice and betrayal; all whilst containing incredibly vivid descriptions. ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ is a book that haunts you ever since one starts reading it and continues haunting one long after finishing it. Despite it having been the first book of the author which I’ve really read, and despite the close attention I had to pay to it whilst reading due to my unfamiliarity with the topic and culture at hand, I adored it.

‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ focuses on the life of a young Zen Buddhist acolyte named Mizoguchi after the end of WW2, who because of the boyhood trauma of seeing his mother make love to another man in the presence of his dying father, is a hopeless stutterer. Taunted by others, he feels alone until he eventually becomes an acolyte at a famous temple in Kyoto, where he develops a consuming obsession with the temple’s beauty. It ends with the man deciding to set fire to the temple despite his obsession with its beauty, all whilst showing a fascinating study of depression and madness.

The story itself is based on the real-life event of the burning of the Golden Pavilion (the temple Kinkakuji) by Buddhist acolyte Hayashi Yoken in 1950. Though not much information exists about him outside of Japanese literature – much of this not being very detailed itself in turn to avoid the events being memoralised – Mishima researched the events carefully, and even interviewed Hayashi in prison before Hayashi passed away. Thus the novel is very closely linked on these real-life events, though with some changes added for philosophical and dramatic effects. The prose reads easily, neither being too cold or dense, and shows great understanding and sensitivity. The voice is deeply original, and makes this a hypnotic book, and proved to be really hard to put down.

‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ shows a dark story and vision that affects the protagonist at every turn, also showing and laying out the themes prevalent in the rest of Mishima’s work. The notion of beauty affected Mishima throughout his life, leading him to model himself as a bodybuilder and believing that strengthening the body was as important as strengthening the mind – particularly for an intellectual. As such it shows a fascinating insight into the author himself, who remains very much a mystery, and subject of great controversy (particularly due to his attempted coup d’état).

Is ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ worth reading? Most definitely. It isn’t often that one has the chance to truly encounter literature that comes across as fascinating as the great classics, so to say, and this part of Mishima’s work definitely achieves to really stand out. Easy and a fascinating read, it is definitely a worthy book to read as both an introduction to the author and a look at the overarching themes of this three-times-nominated Nobel Literature Prize author’s work. It definitely earns the highest rating, and it’d be a shame for any person interested in this particular period of time or author to miss it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophically Challenging, 16 Aug. 2008
By 
C. Bowden - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A complex and endearing account of a criminal in post-war Japan, Mishima's novel plays on the trial of the crime of the real criminal and shows deeper meaning in his evident love of the nation which was to come out later in his own tumultuous life. Philosophically challenging, a must-read.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside the mind of the man who burned the Golden Pavilion, 6 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
In 1950 a mentally unbalanced student of Zen Buddhism burned the famous and beautiful Golden Pavilion at Kyoto to the ground. In this book Mishima asks the simple question why? And finds a complex and intriguing set of answers. He puts himself in the mind of the young monk who committed the crime, describes his life in limpid and masterful detail. The telling ranges between the poetic and the chillingly matter of fact, the tone in these later passages sometimes reminded me of Camus' The Outsider but the philosophy could not be more different. In essence the book's main character comes to believe he must destroy beauty because he cannot himself be beautiful. The book deals with one man's sickness but beyond that it explores the nature of Japanese life and the nation's reaction to defeat in the Second World War. The writing is a treat and the work is elegant and profound. In describing why the destruction of the Golden Pavilion took place Yukio Mishima has created a work as beautiful as the temple must have been.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most beautiful, thought provoking book I've ever read, 24 Oct. 1998
By A Customer
To put it simply, this book is by far the best book I have ever read. The authors use of language and imagery makes the book so engrossing that you can't close the covers until you reach the end. The characters life is one of the most intiguing lives that have been written about by a modern author. This is the work of a true genius. Anything Mishima writes is truly beautiful, and this is his most beautiful book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 28 July 2010
A fabulously unconventional novel, written in exquisite language. Creates many vivid impressions, takes you from tears to laughter, and is startlingly modern in many ways. Unforgettable.
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