Books: Beauty & the Beat

THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN PAVILION (262 pp.)—Yukio Mishima, translated by Ivan Morn's—Knopf ($4).

A crazed theology student dynamiting Chartres Cathedral would be an approximate Western equivalent of a crime that shocked all Japan in 1950. It was the burning of the 14th century Zen temple of Kinkakuji ("Golden Pavilion") by a Zen Buddhist acolyte. The arsonist intended to die in the blaze, but he lost his nerve. At his trial he said, "I hate myself, my evil, ugly, stammering self." But he had no regrets about burning down the Kinkakuji. He envied the Golden Temple its beauty, and he was possessed...

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