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Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics) by…

Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics) (original 1969; edition 2017)

by Shūsaku Endō (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,605723,596 (4)2 / 287
"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"--… (more)
Title:Silence: A Novel (Picador Classics)
Authors:Shūsaku Endō (Author)
Info:Picador Modern Classics (2017), Edition: Reprint, Media Tie In, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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
    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)
  3. 20
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Anonymous user)
  4. 00
    Black Robe: A Novel by Brian Moore (doryfish)
  5. 00
    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (longway)
  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.
  7. 00
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (razorsoccam)

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English (69)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
You can read my review here. It does have a few spoilers, so read if you don't mind that sort of thing.

http://lifeisasnapclick.blogspot.com/2017/05/silence-by.html ( )
  SandraBrower | Oct 27, 2019 |
In the early 17th century Portuguese priests Sabastian Rodrigues and Francis Garrpe land secretly near Nagasaki. They are missionaries coming to Japan during a time of great persecution. Fearful that Christianity is being used by the European powers to weaken the domestic social order and exploit and enslave Japan, the government has outlawed the religion, and ordered all its Japanese adherents and foreigners to publicly renounce the faith. Continuing to practice it results in torture or death.

Rodrigues and Garrpe have come to meet with their fellow Christians, and also to find out if a rumor that has reached Europe is truce. Has their former teacher, Ferreira, renounced his faith after three decades of missionary work in Japan? They are guided by a man named Kichijiro. But they don’t trust him. He strikes them as a traumatized, weak and cowardly individual, who refuses to say if he is or has ever been a Christian. But they proceed on faith, hoping that they won’t be betrayed.

Rodrigues narrates the story their contact with the clandestine Christian community. At first, they are hidden by them. But when the authorities start to search for the missionaries, they split up and leave. Rodrigues is captured and pressured to apostatize. His struggle and its result are the heart of this novel.

There are several silences in the book. At first Kichijiro’s silence, then the silence of God in the face of the persecutions, which torments Rodrigues, then his own silence when others are being tortured because he won’t apostatize, and finally the silence of the Japanese Christian community. Do they outwardly renounce the faith, and keep it secretly, or become martyrs and have their faith die with them? Much like Toni Morrison’s Beloved, this is a powerful and unsettling book. ( )
  MaowangVater | Aug 12, 2019 |
I read the novel after seeing the film. At first I was worried that knowing the plot would ruin the book for me, but I was quickly proven wrong when I picked up the book. I could not put it down and sped through the novel in two days. I rarely read fiction, so this was a real surprise and delight to me.

I approach the novel from the perspective of a non-Catholic but I was deeply moved by the themes of doubt, mercy, and soul wrenching choices. The novel centers around a thought experiment that has no clever escape hatch. Should a man give up his life's work in the church when confronted with the suffering of others that will not stop until he betrays his faith? Was it more Christian to renounce the faith in order to relieve the suffering of others? Does God even exist? Why does God stay silent and indifferent through the suffering of man? Did Jesus love Judas? What is the weak to do in the face of persecution? How is the persuasion fair? The novel raises questions that are difficult for the protagonist to answer as well as any believer I imagine. The book is also written in a beautiful literary style, simple but lyrical. The descriptions of the martyrdom of peasants and the Japanese landscape stay in my mind's eye after I put the book down.

As a side note, strangely enough there were changes between the film and the novel that I felt like impacted the story. In particular, in the novel Rodriguez struggles with imagining the face of Christ, and certain events are concatenated in the film. Additionally, it was not made clear in the film that Ferreira apostatized not from his own torture but the torture of peasants. There's a lot that is lost in translation between film and novel. Most of the novel's most moving questions and experiences are the self doubt that the protagonist feels when he witnesses martyrdom, questions the silence of God and apostatized. It is more clear in the novel the struggles and thoughts of the protagonist than in the film. I would recommend to anyone, a beautiful novel. ( )
  vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
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 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shūsaku Endōprimary authorall editionscalculated
Johnston, WilliamPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnston, WilliamTranslatorsecondary 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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