Book - 2016
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Shusaku Endo's classic novel of enduring faith in dangerous times"Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama."--The New York Times Book Review Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endois one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece.
Publisher: London : Peter Owen, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©1969
ISBN: 9780720614480
Characteristics: 302 pages ; 20 cm


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Andrew Kyle Bacon
Jul 16, 2018

Previous to reading this book, I saw the two major films based upon it. The first by Masahiro Shinoda; the second by Martin Scorsese. Each films offers something different to their viewers, each being a different sort of film, but the book, written by Shusaku Endo, is a whole different beast. While some ideas are perhaps better explored in the film versions (idolatry in Shinoda's film and personal-faith in Scorsese's), the overall depth of Endo's book is unmatched. But, no matter what medium the story exists within, the story of Silence is difficult, disturbing, and though-provoking. Is the book heretical, or faith-affirming? Can it be both? Does Endo tap into something core to Christianity, or does he miss the point entirely? I'm of the opinion that he finds something at the center of Christian doctrine -- the idea of firm and true salvation, from which nothing can separate us -- yet it is so disguised behind a troubling exterior that most will never see it.

"This is a movie about turning your back on the Lord," I was told.

I think this book (and the movies based on it) are far more complex than this. Distilling this story down to this point misses the nuance and gut of the story. Faith is difficult to distill, because it is so elusive in so many ways. Endo, thankfully, did not write a simple story about faith, but about a man whose faith is tested and falling apart.

Do I agree with everything this book presents from a theological level? No, not at all, yet the book stirred my soul and my mind in an extraordinary way. This is a powerful and incredible book.

Jul 03, 2018

I watched the movie adaptation first and it made me borrow the novel from the library. It is a very readable book although lengthy. No doubt it being a translation made it more accessible because it is free from lofty prose and sticks to plain language which is all that is required for a book so character driven. Although this is a novel about finding and understanding faith there is this deep sadness entwined throughout that rings of despair. Maybe it is because the author is expressing his alienation from his own culture because he has adopted a religion which is considered foreign. The foreigners in the novel adopt the manners and customs of their new home with more resignation than love. It is adapt or die for them and Endo's description of this struggle is at the heart of this story. Although Endo tries to steer the conversation to favor the foreigners he describes events in such an even handed way we still have room to decide for ourselves if Japan was right to persecute outsiders to preserve their indigenous culture.

May 26, 2018

Martin Scorsese made a film of this a few years ago which has sparked renewed interest in this novel by Japanese writer Shusaku Endo, who was the rare Catholic in a mostly Buddhist country. It's the story of Portuguese missionaries in 17th century Japan, and it is intensely religious, but not so much that it can't be appreciated by those who simply like good books. Endo's other major novel is "Volcano."

Jan 27, 2018

Endo's 'Silence' is a modern classic and a must-read for theologically-inclined Christian readers. (I suspect non-Christian readers will find the character's central choice much less interesting but will still enjoy a well-written historical fiction.) Endo's prose (and Johnston's translation) is efficient and effortlessly successful, a mammoth task for a novel of such depth.

Ultimately the genius of this work is it's tremendous staying power in lieu of a decision: it lingers for days or weeks until the reader evaluates the protagonist's central choice and puts the matter to rest. This amounts to a serious and profound moment for those who read and contend with this book.

Sep 26, 2017

Although based on real historical figures, this is a historical fiction book, with interesting detail about the introduction of Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism, in 17th century japan. There is also a lot of debating of catholic dogma, with focus on the problems of evil in the world and faith versus human compassion. I found the lengthy theological discussions excessive. I much preferred the livelier exposition of similar topics in Emmanuel Carrere's "The Kingdom".

Apr 05, 2017

Intense, thought provoking and worthwhile. It'll be interesting to see how the movie survives a 3rd or (or 4th), translation.

Mar 25, 2017

Powerful story of the Japanese repression of Christianity through the internal struggle of an evangelizing Catholic Portuguese priest coming to Japan. The book gives lots to ponder about. There are strong historical parallels to the British repression of Catholicism in Ireland.

Mar 17, 2017

Questions raised by this book are timeless - what is faith? why does God answer/not answer me? is martyrdom required? is mine the only true religion? what is the true religion? do I believe the same as others? are converts really converts?
The Jesuit Father Rodriguez is sent to Japan to minister to the secret Christian converts whose very lives are in danger from the Japanese rulers anti-Christian decree. Thus starts his journey of faith. He is captured and must apostatize but can he? His captor is Inoue, a Japanese who was a convert and became a priest but is now an inquisitor. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Feb 05, 2017

An interesting look at Christian missionaries in Japan in the 1700's during a time when Christianity was outlawed and Christians were tortured for their beliefs. Many theological questions are addressed but the primary one is where is God in our suffering? The book is very well written and has many parallels to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. I believe enjoyment of the book helps if you have some knowledge of Christianity and Jesus' story.

Jan 07, 2017

The matter of the "silence" of God is a major theological conundrum, and for the Jesuit missionaries to Japan in the 17th century, the silence of their God when they were faced with persecution must have seemed quite frightening. As a book looking at the situation from the missionaries' perspective. the matter of the cultural imperalism of Europe in Asia is not dealt with in as much detail, but the viewpoint is that of young Jesuit missionaries, who would have seen their efforts as those of good men spreading God's message to the foreigners.

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