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Authors: Yukio Mishima

Temple Of Dawn

BOOK: Temple Of Dawn
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Table of Contents
 
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Epub ISBN: 9781407053622
Version 1.0
  
Published by Vintage 2001
8 10 9 7
Copyright © 1973 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
Originally published in Japan as
Akatsuki no Tera
by Shinchosha, Tokyo, Japan.
Copyright © 1970 Yukio Mishima.
This English translation originally published
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc in 1973
Vintage
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA
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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 9780099282792
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Printed and bound in Great Britain by
CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wiltshire
About the Author
Yukio Mishima was born into a samurai family and imbued with the code of complete control over mind and body, and loyalty to the Emperor – the same code that produced the austerity and self-sacrifice of Zen. He wrote countless short stories and thirty-three plays, in some of which he acted. Several films have been made from his novels, including
The Sound of Waves; Enjo
, which was based on
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
; and
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
. Among his other works are the novels
Confessions of a Mask
and
Thirst for Love
and the short-story collections
Death in Midsummer
and
Acts of Worship
.
The Sea of Fertility
tetralogy, however, is his masterpiece. After Mishima conceived the idea of
The Sea of Fertility
in 1964, he frequently said he would die when it was completed. On November 25th, 1970, the day he completed
The Decay of the Angel
, the last novel of the cycle, Mishima committed
seppuku
(ritual suicide) at the age of 45.
BY YUKIO MISHIMA
THE SEA OF FERTILITY
,
A CYCLE OF FOUR NOVELS
Spring Snow
Runaway Horses
The Temple of Dawn
The Decay of the Angel
Confessions of a Mask
Thirst for Love
Forbidden Colors
The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea
After the Banquet
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Five Modern Nô Plays
The Sound of Waves
Death in Midsummer
Acts of Worship
PART
1
1
 
  I
T WAS
the rainy season in Bangkok. The air was saturated with a continuous fine drizzle, and often drops of rain would dance in a brilliant ray of sunlight. Rifts of blue were always visible here and there; and even when the clouds clustered most thickly round the sun, the sky at their circumference was dazzlingly blue. Before an approaching squall, it would turn ominously dark and threatening. A foreboding shade would shroud the predominantly green, low-roofed city dotted with palms.
The name of the city dates from the Ayutthaya dynasty, when it was first called
bang
, “town,”
kok
, “olives,” because of its many olive trees. Another ancient name is Krung Thep, or “City of Angles.” The metropolis, situated less than six feet above sea level, is completely dependent on canals for transportation. When roads are constructed by piling up dirt, canals are inevitably created. And when ground is excavated in building a house, ponds immediately form. Such pools connect up naturally with streams; and thus these “canals” run in every direction, all flowing into the mother waters of the Menam, gleaming the same brown as that of the inhabitants’ skin.
In the center of the city there are European-style three-storied buildings with balconies and numerous two- and three-storied brick constructions in the foreign concession. The roadside trees, once the city’s most beautiful feature, have been felled here and there in the path of highway construction, and some streets have been partially paved. Mimosa trees, intercepting the strong rays of the sun, form pools of deep shade on the roadways, covering them with black veils of mourning. After a thunder squall the leaves, shriveled in the heat, suddenly revive, and refreshed, raise their heads.
In its prosperity the town reminds one of some southern Chinese city. Numberless two-seated pedicabs ply their way with shades drawn on the sides and in back. Sometimes buffalos from the rice paddies near Bangkap are led through the streets, crows still perching on their backs. Here and there the luminous skin of a leprous beggar glows in the shade like a dark smudge. The boys run about quite naked, while the girls wear a metal pleating over their sex. Exotic fruits and flowers are on sale in the morning market. In front of the Chinese banks glitter chains of pure gold suspended like bamboo jalousies.
But when evening falls, Bangkok is left to the moon and the star-filled sky. Apart from hotels with independent electric systems, only the homes of the wealthy, which are provided with generators, sparkle festively here and there. For the most part, people resort to lamps and candles. A single taper burns throughout the night at the Buddhist altars in all the low-lying houses along the river, and only the gilt of the Buddhist images gleams dimly in the depths of the bamboo-floored structures. Thick, brown incense sticks burn before the statues. Candlelight from the houses on the opposite bank glimmers in the river and is interrupted now and then by the silhouette of a passing boat.
In 1939—last year—Siam officially changed its name to Thailand.
The reason why Bangkok is called the Venice of the East does not stem from any external resemblance between the two cities, which cannot be compared either in design or in scale. First of all, both employ a plethora of canals for maritime transportation, and then both contain many holy edifices. There are seven hundred temples in Bangkok.
Buddhist pagodas soar up through the greenery and are the first to receive the light of dawn and the last to retain the rays of the evening sun, changing with the light into a multitude of colors.
Wat Benchamabopit, the Marble Temple, constructed by Rama V Chulalongkorn in the nineteenth century, though a modest edifice, is the newest and certainly the most sumptuous temple.
The present monarch, Rama VIII, or King Ananda Mahidol, succeeded to the throne in 1935 at the age of eleven, but he soon went to study in Lausanne; and now at the age of seventeen, he is still there devoted to his research. During his absence, the Prime Minister, Luang Phiboon, assumed totalitarian powers, and now the nominal parliament serves merely in an advisory capacity. Two regents were set up: the first, Prince Achitto Apar, was pretty much of a decoration, while the second, Prince Prude Panoma, held the real power.
Prince Achitto Apar, a devout Buddhist, often visited one or another of the sanctuaries in his spare time. One evening it was announced that he intended to go to the Marble Temple.
BOOK: Temple Of Dawn
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