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Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics) by…

Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics) (original 1969; edition 2016)

by Shūsaku Endō (Author)

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2,488693,706 (4)2 / 283
Title:Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics)
Authors:Shūsaku Endō (Author)
Info:Picador Modern Classics (2016), Edition: Translation, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

Work details

Silence by Shūsaku Endō (1969)

  1. 30
    Night by Elie Wiesel (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both books deal with a crisis of faith resulting from God's silence in the face of extreme suffering.
  2. 20
    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (Anonymous user, longway)
  3. 20
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Anonymous user)
  4. 10
    Shogun by James Clavell (soylentgreen23)
    soylentgreen23: Although not from the same period exactly, Endo's 'Silence' is another great book about the incursion into Japan of foreign culture, this time in the form of the Christian Church, and what happened in Japan when that religion was suddenly rejected by the ruling class.… (more)
  5. 00
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (razorsoccam)
  6. 00
    L'Extrémité du monde: relation de saint François Xavier sur ses voyages et sur sa vie by René de Ceccatty (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: Déboires de la Compagnie de Jésus au Japon, du point de vue de François Xavier pour l'Extrémité du monde, et du point de vue d'un missionnaire du XVIIe, Sébastien Rodrigues, pour Silence.

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English (66)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
This is a very impressive historical novel set in 17th century Japan. I have not seen the Scorsese film but my edition does contain an introduction by Scorsese so there is a link to it.

The book is primarily about the difficulties in maintaining faith in a hostile environment, and specifically the trials undergone by Portuguese Catholic missionaries, whose work in Japan flourished in the 16th century but was brutally suppressed. This is a little difficult to understand for those of us who never had (or wanted) a faith in the first place, but it is still very moving.

The central figure is Father Rodrigues, a missionary who has travelled clandestinely to Japan via Macao with one other priest to investigate what happened to his former teacher and mentor, who had been sending reports back but is rumoured to have apostatized. They are initially welcomed by a Christian village but it soon becomes clear that the authorities are determined to punish poor peasants as a tool to undermine the priests' certainties. Rodrigues's trials are contrasted with his own thoughts on the trials of Jesus and the role of Judas, and the Silence of the title refers to the God who does nothing to stop the persecution or help the victims.

A very powerful book, but I suspect that I am not the ideal target audience for it. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
I have no idea why I bought this book since I have issues with missionaries, Christian or whatever. I probably saw something about 17th century Japan and was sold.

Based on fact, we read about Portuguese Jesuit missionaries sneaking into Japan to minister to people who had been converted to Catholicism but haven't been visited by a priest in a while. They stayed in freezing shacks and ministered to Japanese who crept to their door. People wanting to say confession, parents wanting to baptize new babies, etc. They separate and are captured, tortured, humiliated, starved, and pressed to apostatize.

I finished the book and I still don't understand missionaries. All I can see is death and misery in their wake. I give credit to the author whose manner of writing drew me through the book even though I found the subject distasteful. ( )
  mamzel | Jan 20, 2019 |
A temporary fascination with Japan lead me to pick this book off the shelf in a small Japanese stationery and book shop just off Piccadilly. We'd watched the old TV mini series 'Shogun' as a briefing for a holiday in that country. This book is set in a similar period. Written by an author who is amongst the 1% of the population which is christian it tells the story of Portuguese missionaries entering the country at a time when the authorities had clamped down on the religion and its apostles. It is undoubtedly a book about religion. Much of it taken up by the personal agonising of the main character, a young dedicated missionary. The betrayal of Judas is reenacted and used as a prompt to consider the meaning of individual faith. Possibly there is a buddhist approach at work too. The tooing and froing in the missionaries mind like a buddhist savant tackling a difficult koan. In the margins titbits of history both social and political. Throughout it is hard not to keep the author in mind and his position as a member of a minority sect in society. ( )
  Steve38 | Oct 9, 2018 |
"Even if he was betraying them, he was not betraying his Lord"
By sally tarbox on 6 August 2018
Format: Paperback
1966 Japanese classic, set in 17th century Nagasaki, where Samurai rule has made Christianity an offence punishable by death. The (fictional) Portugese priest, Father Sebastian Rodrigues, is moved at the plight of the first Catholic congregations, and makes the journey out to assist them.
The Japan he finds is a grim place, the people living at subsistence level, and the tortures devised for the infidels gruesome...
The title comes from the priest's increasing fear that God does not hear his people's sufferings
At times, Rodrigues is a Christ figure, riding threough crowds on a horse to meet with the chief official - an apparently erudite and charming man, yet one who utilises savage punishments - in a concerted effort to make him give up his faith, he introduces the priest to apostate Father Ferreira.. .
But we see him also as a Judas, one who ultimately sells out on his religion, - yet for reasons of love and compassion rather than fear or selfishness.
Thought-provoking work. also historically very interesting. ( )
  starbox | Aug 5, 2018 |
I picked this up because I heard it was a good exploration of the (so-called) “problem of evil”; that it is, indeed. It helps that the writer was non-Western, although a Catholic.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, or are interested in topics such as colonialism, world trade, missions, the Catholic Church, persecution, or 17th-century-feudal Japan, it would be well worth your time - especially if you have some light-hearted reading nearby once you are done. ( )
  Pastor_Doug | Mar 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shūsaku Endōprimary authorall editionscalculated
Johnston, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnston, WilliamPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steegers-Groeneveld, C.M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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News reached the Church in Rome.
"This country is a swamp. . . . Whenever you plant a sapling in this swamp the roots begin to rot; the leaves grow yellow and wither."

--Cristóvão Ferreira
"They twisted God to their own way of thinking in a way we can never imagine. . . . It is like a butterfly caught in a spider's web. At first it is certainly a butterfly, but the next day only the externals, the wings and the trunk, are those of a butterfly; it has lost its true reality and has become a skeleton. In Japan our God is just like that butterfly caught in the spider's web: only the exterior form of God remains, but it has already become a skeleton."
--Cristóvão Ferreira
It was not against the Lord of Chikugo and the Japanese that he had fought. Gradually he had come to realize that it was against his own faith that he had fought.
How many of our Christians, if only they had been born in another age from this persecution, would never have been confronted with the problem of apostasy or martyrdom but would have lived blessed lives of faith until the very hour of death.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0800871863, Paperback)

"Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama." Irving Howe. -- The New York Times Review Of Books

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sustained by dreams of glorious martyrdom, a seventeenth-century Portuguese missionary in Japan administers to the outlawed Christians until Japanese authorities capture him and force him to watch the torture of his followers, promising to stop if he will renounce Christ.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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