HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Sea and Poison

by Shūsaku Endō

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3301577,575 (4)1 / 96
The Sea and Poison was the first Japanese book to confront the problem of individual responsibility in wartime, painting a searing picture of the human race's capacity for inhumanity. At the outset of this powerful story we find a Doctor Suguro in a backwater of modern-day Tokyo practicing expert medicine in a dingy office. He is haunted by his past experience and it is that past which the novel unfolds. During the war Dr. Suguro serves his internship in a hospital where the senior staff is more interested in personal career-building than in healing. He is induced to assist in a horrifying vivisection of a POW. What is it that gets you," one of his colleagues asks. "Killing that prisoner? The conscience of man, is that it?" "… (more)
  1. 00
    Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse (lilisin)
  2. 00
    Fires on the Plain by Shōhei Ōoka (lilisin)
  3. 00
    When I Whistle by Shūsaku Endō (lilisin)
    lilisin: Similar themes that work well together. I would read "Sea and Poison" first followed by "When I Whistle".
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

» See also 96 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A sobering and prolonged look at inhumanity. ( )
  eloavox | Oct 29, 2020 |
Well, that was..disturbing, to say the least. ( )
  littlebookjockey | Sep 15, 2020 |
Shusaku Endo seems to write powerful novels. This certainly is one. It was both disturbing and moving. It is the second one of his novels I have enjoyed, though The Girl I Left Behind was more enjoyable. They both have strong characterization, though one of the characters in The Sea and Poison seems less relevant than the others.

The novel is told from a few points of view, and this device, while lending variety to the first person narration, might detract form the chronological cohesiveness of the book. Since it jumps around in the middle, it plays out rather like a film with several flashbacks. Still, the viewpoint of the nurse and Suguro are most compelling. There was no need to follow the story any further, since Endo clearly had an agenda and a very clear message to get across. You can glean this message from reading the product description. Like in the other book I mentioned, the descriptions of surgery are incredibly vivid. Through the gruesome depictions, Endo makes the horror and internal strife suffered by the characters tangible.

This will not take you long to read but it will stick with you for a long time. Endo gets overshadowed by Mishima, but he is arguably more effective at creating a lasting impression - at least from what I've sampled so far. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
Wow! This book left me staggering at the thought of how cruel one man can be to another. The older I get, the more disillusioned I get with humanity. This cruelty is not limited to one ethnicity nor one nation, but is pervasive in the world. My question is what to do in its face? The author voices the same idea in his story. "I'm just one person. What can I do with the world?"

It was almost good to know that Jiro Suguro, one of the medical interns in this novel, was negatively affected by the cruelty he observed. I said almost, but it wasn't quite good enough for his complicity, albeit minor.

I was pondering what really happened during WWII while reading this story and, offhandedly, looked up the background for this novel only to find out that it was real. It was a historical incident of eight captured American airmen during WWII who underwent vivisection by Japanese doctors with the full knowledge that they were condemning these prisoners to bizarre and unjust deaths! I will never cease to be surprised at how cruel and evil people can be to one another. Yes, the Japanese and Americans were enemies in the war. However, what happened to the doctor's creed, at least in the Hippocratic Oath that I know from the medical community in the United States? It states: "First do no harm." It was hard reading this book as a retired nurse, but it must be an even harder read for doctors.

So is this human-to-human cruelty necessary? Yes, the Japanese and Americans were once enemies, but this very week I have a son who is traveling to Japan for vacation. He says that, to him, Japan is very safe. Imagine!

The book starts off with foreshadowing. We learn that a "welfare" patient was going to be undergoing surgery and would probably die from the experiments that the doctors were going to do on her. Are some human beings simply disposable? How do we choose which ones are in that state? Is it fair? Is it humane? What gives the right to be on top of this hierarchy? Money? Power? A prestigious job? The most education? Being born into a high status family?

The other incident that happened in this book, I also found chilling. There was a woman of high rank who died in surgery, and the doctors tried to cover it up by telling the nurses not to tell the family, and to take the patient back into the room while running in medications, making it look as if she were still alive. Who does this? A medical professional? Medicine is a field in which we are always making life and death decisions. Sometimes we accidentally make the wrong decisions. Sometimes we make the right decisions, and patients die anyway. Not creating incident reports and covering up the truth in the medical field is one of the darkest, most profane things that can happen to medical practice. I am so tired of lies and unethical behavior in day-to-day real life that it is excruciating to also be "reading for pleasure" about such behavior.

Should you read this book? Absolutely, yes. It's beautifully written and tries to present evil truth by revealing it carefully in fiction. I was wondering at the end if the author wrote this novel to teach more people about the truth of WWII. I hope so. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Jan 10, 2020 |
Moments of greatness, but too slow paced for me. ( )
  GardeniaP | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shūsaku Endōprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gallagher, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
There is not much point in discussing something with somebody if he never bothers to give you anything resembling an answer.
...it seemed to me that the ordinary can give one the greatest happiness.
I’m just one person. What can I do with the world?
Well, this is married life for you.
The conscience of man, is that it? It seems to vary a good deal from man to man.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

The Sea and Poison was the first Japanese book to confront the problem of individual responsibility in wartime, painting a searing picture of the human race's capacity for inhumanity. At the outset of this powerful story we find a Doctor Suguro in a backwater of modern-day Tokyo practicing expert medicine in a dingy office. He is haunted by his past experience and it is that past which the novel unfolds. During the war Dr. Suguro serves his internship in a hospital where the senior staff is more interested in personal career-building than in healing. He is induced to assist in a horrifying vivisection of a POW. What is it that gets you," one of his colleagues asks. "Killing that prisoner? The conscience of man, is that it?" "

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5 1
3 15
3.5 4
4 21
4.5 5
5 16

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 201,899,900 books! | Top bar: Always visible