The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a novel written by Japanese author Yukio Mishima and was first published in Japan in 1956. The book was translated into English by Ivan Morris, and the edition I read included additional translations by Nancy Wilson Ross and Fumi Komatsu. The novel is based on an actual event that took place in Kyoto in 1950, where a young Buddhist acolyte burned down the Golden Pavilion, a famous temple in Japan.
The story is narrate by Mizoguchi, a stuttering young man who becomes obsessed with the Golden Pavilion. He spends his childhood dreaming about the temple and is eventually accept as a student at the nearby Zen temple. Mizoguchi is a complex character, struggling with his speech impediment. And the sense of inferiority it brings him. His obsession with the temple leads him down a dark path, and he becomes increasingly unstable and volatile.
Mizoguchi’s growing obsession with the temple is further complicate by his relationship with a fellow student, Kashiwagi. Kashiwagi is a cold and manipulative character. Who sees Mizoguchi’s vulnerability as an opportunity to assert his power over him. Their relationship is fraught with tension and violence, and it adds an extra layer of complexity to the story.
The novel explores a range of themes, including beauty, obsession, and destruction. Mizoguchi’s obsession with the Golden Pavilion is a central theme, and Mishima explores the destructive nature of obsession. Mizoguchi’s obsession is born out of a desire to possess the temple’s beauty, but his inability to do so ultimately leads to his downfall.
The novel also explores themes of masculinity and power. Mizoguchi’s stuttering and vulnerability are seen as weaknesses in Japanese society. And Kashiwagi uses these weaknesses to assert his dominance over him. The relationship between Mizoguchi and Kashiwagi is a complex one.It is an interesting commentary on the dynamics of power in Japanese society.
Mishima’s writing is poetic and evocative, and he captures the beauty of Kyoto’s temples and gardens with great skill. The descriptions of the Golden Pavilion are particularly striking. Mishima uses language to create a vivid and powerful image of the temple. His writing is also deeply introspective, and he delves into the psyche of Mizoguchi with great sensitivity.
Ivan Morris’s translation is excellent, and he captures the tone and style of Mishima’s writing with great skill. The additional translations by Nancy Wilson Ross and Fumi Komatsu provide an interesting perspective. It is fascinating to compare the different translations of the same text.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a powerful and haunting novel, exploring themes of beauty, obsession. And destruction with great skill. Mishima’s writing is poetic and evocative. He captures the essence of Kyoto’s temples and gardens with great skill. The novel is a fascinating commentary on Japanese society, and it explores the dynamics of power and masculinity in a complex and nuanced way. The translation by Ivan Morris is excellent, and the additional translations by Nancy Wilson Ross and Fumi Komatsu provide an interesting perspective. Overall, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a masterpiece of Japanese literature and a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.