The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima

In this beautiful and dark novel, we read about a young man’s obsession with the famous Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Mizoguchi, who is unpopular and ostracized for his stuttering, is introduced to the temple by his father, and eventually becomes an acolyte there. After seeing the temple every day, he becomes more and more enamored by its structure and beauty. It becomes, to him, a symbol of beauty itself.

Mizoguchi’s internal thoughts are so different to his exterior, and so dark and unsettling, but in a very believable way, that it made me wonder about what other such thoughts might be occurring in anyone around me. The actions he takes, while completely rational in his own mind, often seem cruel or insane from an outside perspective.

I enjoy stories of obsession, but they tend to always be about the same, tired things. I liked very much that the object of obsession in this book was not an attractive neighbor or student. Instead, our character is obsessed with a building. The temple inserts itself into his mind whenever he sees beauty in the world. Even his sexual attractions somehow become related to this temple.

This is a very strange novel, and intensely beautifully written. The beauty has floating beneath it, though, a kind of sickening undercurrent of darkness.

Highly recommended for it’s beauty and originality.

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