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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
21
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
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on 30 March 2017
Not as accessible as some of Mishima's work, but a great novel, serious in substance, psychologically penetrating and articulated in the author's exquisite, refined style.
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on 13 August 2012
An interesting read, but the Kindle edition of this book is terrible - full of stray punctuation characters, and in a few places there are strange errors (superscript 1 character in place of a single quote, for example), which make me wonder if it was reproduced from a scanned copy of printed text.

It's just about annoying enough to distract from the reading experience, and clearly nobody bothered to proof-read this edition. Pick up the paperback if that's an option.
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on 2 June 2017
Beautiful read, finely observed details of human thoughts and interactions
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on 1 October 2017
Good Novel, important piece of work of understanding Mishima's inner thought.
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on 4 June 2016
a fascinating book by a master of Japanese literature.
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on 5 January 2006
For the readers that are unfamiliar with Mishima and his work, this book could be very difficult to understand. One of his best works, “The temple of the golden pavilion” was one of the many ways that Mishima tried to explain to the world how he saw it. Using the true story of the arson of one of Japans most famous temples Mishima brings forward issues and ideas that to most Westerners would seem perverse and disturbing. What people often miss to understand when reading this book is that it is a glimpse of the true Kimitake Hiraoka (Yukio Mishima’s birth name), his obsession with the beautiful and its link to death and bloodshed. The main character’s obsession with the Golden Temple is really Mishima’s obsession with Death and his believe that to remain beautiful you must die, and die young.
A truly wonderful book that will provoke the darkest thoughts and make its reader take and inward look to find their own “Golden Temple”
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on 1 March 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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on 31 March 2013
This was not an easy read, yet it has stayed with me since. I was lucky enough to visit the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto recently and having read the novel added to the experience.
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on 18 February 2015
A request for an auntie with no complaints
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on 1 March 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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