Mishima Yukio, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed.

Essential book information

Basic plot summary (amazon)

Because of the boyhood trauma of seeing his mother make love to another man in the presence of his dying father, Mizoguchi becomes a hopeless stutterer. Taunted by his schoolmates, he feels utterly alone until he becomes an acolyte at a famous temple in Kyoto. He quickly becomes obsessed with the beauty of the temple. Even when tempted by a friend into exploring the geisha district, he cannot escape its image. In the novel’s soaring climax, he tries desperately to free himself from his fixation.

My praise and critique

I stumbled across this book by accident. It is a book about obsession and about what being obsessed can do to a person. It is also a book about beauty, a book that makes you think.

It presents life roughly and directly. The author tries to describe the essence of beauty, the reason it exists, the meaning of beauty in life. He succeeds and fails at the same time. Still, I think this is what exactly illustrates the passing and eternal character of beauty. I enjoyed the language of the book 

Worth mentioning is that I have hated the main character of the book. He is disgusting. How and what he thinks, how he (not) feels,  acts and the reasoning he has in his mind – I’m not sure I can recall any other character, be it fiction or non-fiction, whom I disliked so much.

My recommendation

Not the worst reading for an evening or two. 

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