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"In my opinion one of the finest novels of our time." - Graham Greene Shusaku Endo is Japan's foremost novelist, and Silence is generally regarded to be his masterpiece. In a perfect fusion of treatment and theme, this powerful novel tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of the fearful persecution of the small Christian community. "In my opinion one of the finest novels of our time." - Graham Greene Shusaku Endo is Japan's foremost novelist, and Silence is generally regarded to be his masterpiece. In a perfect fusion of treatment and theme, this powerful novel tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of the fearful persecution of the small Christian community.


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"In my opinion one of the finest novels of our time." - Graham Greene Shusaku Endo is Japan's foremost novelist, and Silence is generally regarded to be his masterpiece. In a perfect fusion of treatment and theme, this powerful novel tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of the fearful persecution of the small Christian community. "In my opinion one of the finest novels of our time." - Graham Greene Shusaku Endo is Japan's foremost novelist, and Silence is generally regarded to be his masterpiece. In a perfect fusion of treatment and theme, this powerful novel tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of the fearful persecution of the small Christian community.

30 review for Silence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.” Japanese Painting by an unknown artist of the Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki. The Jesuit priest Francis Xavier born in SPAIN, but representing PORTUGAL arrived in Japan in 1543 to save souls. The Japanese were Buddhist, not “heathens” without a proper religion. The Spanish Francis “Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.” Japanese Painting by an unknown artist of the Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki. The Jesuit priest Francis Xavier born in SPAIN, but representing PORTUGAL arrived in Japan in 1543 to save souls. The Japanese were Buddhist, not “heathens” without a proper religion. The Spanish Franciscans and Dominicans, not wanting to be left out of this mass conversion opportunity, sent their own priests to compete with Xavier. Later, the Protestants from the Netherlands also wanted their share of souls in Japan, or was it something else they wanted? For the priests and ministers who went to Japan, I’m sure their objective was saving the souls of the Japanese because anyone not embracing the “true religion” was going to hell. The governments they represented, on the other hand, were not worried about saving souls but about making a fortune on trade. Whoever won the war of religious conversation also won the trade war. The Pope was called to intercede at different times, granting the Portuguese exclusive rights to Japan or later allowing the Spaniards to compete with the Portuguese. This was big business. These men of God were the first assault team of the invading West. The Japanese, at different times over the following century, rounded up the priests and their most fervent converts and shipped them off the island. They made it against the law to be a Christian. There was an overabundance of martyrs, as heads were separated from bodies. Christians were suspended on crosses to be speared to death or drowned slowly with the rising of the ocean. They were glorious martyrs, some secretly hoping they would even be remembered as saints. At the peak, there were estimated to be 400,000 converts. The Japanese were obviously receptive to the white man’s God. Now we flash forward to the 17th century and the beginning of this novel. Christianity has been banned, and if there are any priests left on the island, they are hiding and practicing their religious incantations underground. The Portuguese priests know of one legendary priest by the name of Christovao Ferreira. They don’t know if he lives or is martyred, but there are rumors that he has apostatized and now works for the Japanese. Apostatized? It couldn’t be true. What man of God would give up his faith and deny his spiritual Father? Liam Neeson is Ferreira in the Scorsese film. Jesuit priests Rodrigues and Garrpe have been selected to be the next wave of Portuguese priests to go into Japan. What they know about the state of their religion in Japan is based on sketchy information from travelers and exiled Japanese Christians. The environment is known to be hostile to their intentions. They have no idea if the converts are still practicing Christianity or have been forced back to their old religion. Will they be embraced or will they be handed over to the authorities? They have lots of time to ponder their reception while on the ocean voyage from China to Japan. Courage works much better if needed spontaneously. A situation presents itself. You are forced to act, and with any luck you prove heroic. For these priests who are almost assured martyrdom, the death and courage to face it are still abstract thoughts. Death is never just death. How can one prepare for the myriad of ways that one can be expired? Will their faith sustain them through the pain? Will they be strong enough to remain true? They have one friend, a Japanese Christian named Kichijiro who guides them from village to village to find friendly Christians. These people are ecstatic at finally having a priest in their midst. Baptisms are performed at a frantic pace, and sins are confessed with true relief. Any doubts that Rodrigues and Garrpe may have felt about the insanity of their decision to come to Japan are quickly cast aside. Kichijiro, the one they rely on the most, is…(view spoiler)[ Judas. He is weak. He is scared. He folds his faith into a small box and tucks it to the back of his heart. This is the moment that will measure the rest of his life. This is the moment he will never be able to live with. (hide spoiler)] “Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.” Andrew Garfield plays the Portuguese Jesuit priest Sebastian Rodrigues. As Rodrigues sits in prison listening to the moans of tortured Japanese Christians, he ponders the silence of God. He prays fervently to him, not for himself, but for these people who believe in this God enough to die for him. ”You came to this country to lay down your life for them. But in fact they are laying down their lives for you.” Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer? Why does he turn his face away from the piteous cries of his children? Why is he...silent? There are many ways to break a man, and Rodrigues will face choices that have never been considerations while he has been dreaming of martyrdom. Rarely does life follow the script that we write in our heads. Martin Scorsese read this book and read this book again. For nearly thirty years, he has been trying to secure the financing to make the film. Finally, in 2016 his dream has been realized. The movie had a small release on December 23rd, 2016, and will be out for wide release on January 13th, 2017. There is already Oscar buzz for best picture. I know his intention with the film, like the book, is to strip away everything but the meaning of spirituality. The purity of faith. I hope the people who see movies will support his labor of love, but I also hope that the reading public will also read the book that inspired the movie. Martin Scorsese’s quest has finally been completed. The POWER of books!! I’m not a religious person. I can’t think of anything more senseless than religious wars. There aren’t enough differences between any religions to necessitate blood being shed in the service of the God, a God, a pantheon of Gods. People who seek out martyrdom and are willing to strap bombs to themselves to blow up innocent people in a market place are, in my opinion, in for a rather nasty surprise. We all make our God out of wholecloth. He isn’t the exact same entity for any of us, but my version of a creator is not one who rewards those who hurt the weak. These “martyrs” don’t kill people for a cause, though they may say they do. The real reason is their own selfish desire to better their position in the afterlife. The martyrdom that Rodrigues seeks is only based upon his own destruction, but even that is a prideful wish of achieving immortality as a martyr for the cause. He soon learns that no man is an island. His death, if he can achieve it, can not be the clean, glorious quietus he most passionately desires. This is a book about courage, about faith, about everything that is important to most people. It is a book that resonates with readers and haunts them for decades, exactly the same way it did Scorsese. It certainly left this reader with much to ponder and the chance to reconsider the consequences of all my actions. The best of intentions can have dreadful results for the very people you are trying to help. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    This is a historical novel about the early years of Christianity in Japan. It is a fictionalized account based on real historical characters. It’s set in the late 17th century. Two Portuguese priests get into Japan by ship from Macao at a time when Japanese officials had banned Christianity and were killing priests and torturing suspected Christians to apostatize (give up their faith). They are forced to verbally renounce their faith and to stomp and spit on religious figures. The main character This is a historical novel about the early years of Christianity in Japan. It is a fictionalized account based on real historical characters. It’s set in the late 17th century. Two Portuguese priests get into Japan by ship from Macao at a time when Japanese officials had banned Christianity and were killing priests and torturing suspected Christians to apostatize (give up their faith). They are forced to verbally renounce their faith and to stomp and spit on religious figures. The main character is a young priest who fears capture and torture but assumes his faith is so strong that he can withstand it, as Christ did. But he’s not prepared to be left alone watching while his parishioners are killed and tortured. “You came to this country to lay down your life for them. But in fact they are laying down their lives for you.” Will he apostatize and agree to be held under “house arrest” as an example of how priests willingly give up their religion? One of his predecessors, his former professor whom he greatly admired, is rumored to live in a mansion with his wife. Arriving with religious fervor, the young priest quickly worries about losing his faith. He worries that Christianizing some Japanese has offered them nothing but suffering and death. As he is appalled by their suffering, at times they seem more at ease than he does, while they wait “wait for heavenly bliss” following their deaths. The priest’s interrogators carry on intellectual arguments with him that it is impossible for the Japanese culture to understand or accept his western God even though they “convert.” In letters that he writes back to church officials, the phrase “met with a glorious martyrdom” is a euphemism for the death of priests. While these atrocities go on, the priest asks “Why is God so silent?” – thus the title. The book is allegorical in several ways, not only in the priest comparing his suffering to Christ’s, but in his having his own Judas who sells him out to the authorities for a handful of silver coins. All the Europeans in Japan at the time (Portuguese, English, Dutch, Spanish) are trying to convert Japanese to Christianity and they undercut each other’s efforts and cause confusion about what brand is the “true religion.” Certainly not a pretty read, and a very slow starter, but a good read if you like historical fiction. Obviously it has a strong religious emphasis. All of Endo’s work has Catholicism as its theme and Endo (1923-1996) has been called “the Japanese Graham Greene.” Top image from epicworldhistory.blogspot.com Bottom from linkedin.com/pulse/portuguese-japan

  3. 5 out of 5

    AMEERA

    Painful and deep book about the religions I think this book change me and makes me more respectful to other religions even if you religion different than what I believe I should respect you because this what you believe too

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." -- Wittgenstein, Tractus Logico-Philosophicus 7 The novel starts off a bit slow, but once it hit its pace it's almost Dostoevskian in its depths. Endō, a Japanese Catholic, uses the story of two Jesuit priests in search of an apostate Jesuit to explore issues of faith, circumstance, religous colonialism, belief, sin, courage, suffering, martyrdom, etc., especially during periods when God is "silent". He examines Christ and Christianity and t "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." -- Wittgenstein, Tractus Logico-Philosophicus 7 The novel starts off a bit slow, but once it hit its pace it's almost Dostoevskian in its depths. Endō, a Japanese Catholic, uses the story of two Jesuit priests in search of an apostate Jesuit to explore issues of faith, circumstance, religous colonialism, belief, sin, courage, suffering, martyrdom, etc., especially during periods when God is "silent". He examines Christ and Christianity and the way they adapted to Japan and were both accepted and rejected by the East. Overall, it was probably 4.5 stars for me. It certainly belongs on the block next to some of the other great religious fiction (The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Les Misérables, The Razor's Edge, etc.). I think some of the power of this novel exists beyond the text. I don't mean supernatural or anything silly or of that sort. I just mean that the prose of this novel (or at least Johnston's translation of Endō) was fine, solid. But the book chews on you after reading. It expands. It works you over days after reading. I am still haunted by the sea, the darkness, and obviously the silence. Some of my favorite quotes: "We priests are in some ways a sad group of men. Born into the world to render service to mankind, there is no one more wretched alone than the priest who does not measure up to his task." "But Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt--this is the realization that came home to me acutely at the time." "Men are born in two categories: the strong and the weak, the saints and the commonplace, there heroes and those who respect them." "Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura Leaney

    This is an intense - rather grim - epistolary novel written mostly from the vantage point of a Roman Catholic priest, a missionary to Japan, early in the 17th century. The events are based on historical facts and the characters on actual people. The succinct introduction by translator William Johnston reveals that the novel begins after the period when daiymo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had once allowed the Christian missionaries much privilege, had twenty-six Japanese and European Christians crucif This is an intense - rather grim - epistolary novel written mostly from the vantage point of a Roman Catholic priest, a missionary to Japan, early in the 17th century. The events are based on historical facts and the characters on actual people. The succinct introduction by translator William Johnston reveals that the novel begins after the period when daiymo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had once allowed the Christian missionaries much privilege, had twenty-six Japanese and European Christians crucified. Apparently there "stands a monument to commemorate the spot where they died" to this day. Although missionary work continued, there began a savage effort to exterminate Christianity from Japan. The first executions created too many martyrs, so the Japanese officials attempted to force the Christians to apostatize by stamping or pressing their foot on a depiction of Christ or the Virgin, a fumie. If not, they were wrapped tightly and hung upside down in a pit filled with excrement until they signaled their apostasy (with their one free hand) or died. The novel opens with two priests willing to risk capture and death to keep Christ's flame burning. They are Sebastian Rodrigues and Francisco Garrpe, both Portuguese. Crossing the "leaden sea," they entrust themselves to Kichijiro, a Japanese Christian who wears a "servile grin." Pax Christi. What happens to these men in Japan is beautiful and terrible. The letters of Rodrigues are testament to the powerful writing of Endō and show the priest's anguish as God remains silent in the face of so much suffering. He writes: "I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom." Rodrigues is plagued by his inability to understand. His journey to Japan parallels the suffering of Christ, his dealings with Judas, as well as his interviews with Roman officials. It is not a good outcome, but the ending blew me away. Here's an important question to the faithful: If you could save men and women from slow torture by stepping on the fumie and apostatizing, would you do it? Or would you hold your ground while listening to their agonizing moans? Does God want you to help the suffering of human beings or does God want you to keep your foot off His image? What a terrible situation for a Christian priest. At one point Rodrigues is forced to watch the death of Japanese Christian martyrs as they are wrapped alive in matting and dropped into the sea. He cannot shake the vision of it, and he sees the "sea stretched out endlessly, sadly; and all this time, over the sea, God simply maintained his unrelenting silence.[. . .] 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani!' The priest had always thought that these words were that man's prayer, not that they issued from terror at the silence of God." If you grew up Roman Catholic, as I did, this book will strike a strong chord in you. The questions that Rodrigues asks are the questions we all wanted to ask. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Like Dostoyevsky, Endō shows the existential condition of man as alien in the world, lonely, and horribly in need of comfort. More than anything else, Silence is food for thought.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William2

    A worthwhile read even for a non-Christian like me who, nonetheless, has a deep and abiding intellectual interest in religion and spirituality. But VERY Christian. You have to have some empathy for that side of the story in order for it to be a satisfying read. If you're an atheist, not for you. No no no... A worthwhile read even for a non-Christian like me who, nonetheless, has a deep and abiding intellectual interest in religion and spirituality. But VERY Christian. You have to have some empathy for that side of the story in order for it to be a satisfying read. If you're an atheist, not for you. No no no...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mariel

    This book ruined my life. Sorta true. It's the catchiest review intro I'm going to come up with. I'm afraid to review this book and remember why it set me off to feeling hopeless and stupid. Band aid scenario. Pull it off! I don't have the religion or spiritual kinds of faith. I'm dyslexic when it comes to religion, maybe. My mind jumbles the meanings and I just don't speak that language of KNOWING what you can't see and this is good and this is always bad. I don't look at someone who does have i This book ruined my life. Sorta true. It's the catchiest review intro I'm going to come up with. I'm afraid to review this book and remember why it set me off to feeling hopeless and stupid. Band aid scenario. Pull it off! I don't have the religion or spiritual kinds of faith. I'm dyslexic when it comes to religion, maybe. My mind jumbles the meanings and I just don't speak that language of KNOWING what you can't see and this is good and this is always bad. I don't look at someone who does have it and see that core glowing from within them. I hear the adults from Peanuts warbled talk about it like someone being in love with someone. *I* am not in love. Maybe it is something spiritual I have but it isn't like anything I've heard about. My Star Wars buddhism and humanism, whatever that is. Any kind of thread between me and everyone else, of past, present and future (on good days when I don't heartily wish there was no me). I at least want to see the glow in another. The times I believe what is worth remembering (and is actually remembered!) is enough. Things I'm afraid to try to name 'cause it'd probably make me an asshole (like if I could ever understand or know anyone else). I live for moments I feel like walls of skulls aren't so thick after all. I'll try to keep the faith (that I don't have 'cause I don't know what it is) that there's going to be something in there to spark the life and days for the next day. Something like that. Unless I get confused reading a book like Silence and it ruins my life! Church? After life (that there won't always be life has sometimes been my only hope)? It would occur to me last, if at all. (My first memory of catholicism is seeing the bath tub in the catholic church my cousins went to. I decided they used it to drown children while the adults watched. Not to mention the Alabama baptist church my mom allowed this "kind lady" - ha!- to force us to go to.) Shusako Endo's Silence might be about God and religion and stuff like that, as the book jackets and quotes suggest. Graham Greene named it as a best novel of the century. Other guys called Endo the Japanese Graham Greene. I only know The Third Man Graham Greene, really... No help at all. Since that stuff doesn't exist in my heart I read something else. I felt a little stupid reading this was about Christian themes. More remorseful still when it is about philosophy. Soooo don't get it. Humanity? Asshole! Maybe I didn't read the intended book. Oh well. Can I go on beating myself up about it forever? (Yeah, I could.) If I had read it as a Christian themes book I wouldn't have given a shit about the book at all and could have moved on with my reading life as if nothing had happened. What killed me was the losing the faith in the unnameable let's not be an asshole stuff. I guess I was an asshole. I can hardly explain it to myself why Endo's Silence "triggered" one of my more awful depressions since fall of 2009 (I didn't talk to anyone that was not purely perfunctory reasons for months. I'm, um, afraid of people sometimes. Um, all the way into spring 2010). My mental health is a fragile little balanced thing that I have to keep watch over constantly. The little engine that couldn't. The stupidest shit can make me feel bleak as hell. I never know when it is going to happen. Relatively happy one second, depressed the next. I read lots of books and listen to music to keep up the feeling like someone other than me. I need other voices than me in here. I don't know how it happened. Yes, I do! It was that damned Kichijiro, and Father Rodrigues. It was that damned Mariel. Father Rodrigues is pumped up with love of Jesus Christ (he loves his beautiful face. Young me thought my dad looked like Jesus 'cause he had a beard. Now I think he looked like a prototype of a hipster. Too late. Jesus couldn't stop brutal jerks from sporting beards. George Harrison had to shave his off after Charles Manson ruined the look. Anyway, the look isn't gentle to me. It's the beard! Perfect for hiding undesirable dinner foods and violent secrets). The Catholic church is ready to give up on converting Japanese. The grapevine has it that Father Ferreira apostatized. I really don't get this apostatsy business. This could be me not getting the whole religious thing. WHY would it convert anyone to your religion when you got killed for it? "I wanna do that!" Does it matter if every person you are ever going to meet (for example, brutal guards with or without facial hair) knew that you fantasized about paintings of Jesus in your most affectionate moments? If that's where your feelings of self worth came from... Father Rodrigues definitely got off on the inner paintings of himself looking holy and serene. Boy, did he ever. Does one moment negate your entire being, what you are about? Denial of yourself to someone else? I personally believe that you are going to spend your life with yourself and knowing yourself is more important than a few Japanese guards getting you to say what you didn't want to say. Father Rodrigues lies to himself about his reasons for saying what he didn't want to say. That was kinda creepy crawly to read about. Stop the Jesus navel gazing, man! Did he believe that God was not there for him as the most protective big brother on the block? Or did he just wake up and smell the burning feet? Kichijiro was their Japanese guide, rescued from exile in Portugal. Kichijiro is a Christian in his heart. I think he was embracing the Catholic guilt too well. He apostatized. His entire family did not, and died their martyr deaths (maybe they were partying up there in heaven with Jesus made water wine while their brother drowned in sake and guilt made vomit. Who knows for sure?). Father Rodrigues hates Kichijiro, for all that he will not admit it. He likes to think well of himself and it depressed me to read his full of shitness about the lost man. What is the point in having a belief system if you can't LIVE with it? It depressed me to read about the pity from his Christ for the pain of having to step on the fumie. One man hated himself and the other felt he was loved. What enabled him to think that way? I couldn't do it. What the picture of Christ thought, in the heart of Father Rodrigues? What Kichijiro followed him through so much to hear, that it was not the end to have had that moment and stepped on the fumie? It is forgiven? What is forgiven? To live? Life sucks!!!!! Most of the time, for most. It is okay to feel something about it? What the hell is there to forgive? One day was not the whole life! What enlightenment did Father Rodrigues have that Kichijiro could not have? Kichijiro who would at least admit that he wanted to live. I don't know how it happened. I didn't catch myself in time. I couldn't stop thinking about Father Rodrigues. They were on their crosses to bear and the darkness crossed my face, crossed my heart. Hoped to die. My cross to bear. I made a face and it got stuck that way (it isn't stuck. It was the worst because it felt like it would be. Stuck). My cynicism started up. My lack of faith is truly that I cannot trust people in the me to them and them to me way. Would I hole up inside as Father Rodrigues? So supicious, that Father Rodrigues. I related too much to Kichijiro's cut off from life, his half alive desire to BE alive again. The inkling of what he wanted, yet doing all of the wrong things to keep that desire fed. It's a struggle, to live every day. I don't care if they die and if there's a happy all you can drink wine buffet party, or the kegger from hell with every asshole frat guy all in one place. I felt hopelessly stupid that I couldn't grasp what the point of this was. Is silence better if it is unspoken to not go unheard? God is dead, or unknowable, perhaps uncaring? It is possible to escape being an asshole and hiding from what you don't understand? Is there a glowing within others and I'll never be able to see it? I'm feeling more myself again, today. What I live for to stay with head above total darkness is the not faith but just trying not to be an asshole "I know them all" while keeping some kind of faith in not being all alone in this noggin. Other voices. No silence. It was my fault. I listened to my potential Father Rodrigues too much and I should have looked into the world around him, as much as I wished they'd look at each other (starving peasants risking all to feed the priests! Ugh!). It wasn't about him. If they needed Christianity it was because it was hard to live through the day to day without a connection to someone (I'm hoping their image of Christ wasn't as reflecting back as that stupid priest!). They went through a lot, those Catholic Japanese. They didn't doubt and grow silent within themselves. Silence is one of the few words that I know in kanji (I'm progressing perhaps slowly in kano. I'm not rushing anything. It's a kind of hobby to relax me, that's all [Note to self, don't start feeling bad about this]). I'd show off my writing if I had a (working) camera (I break everything! [I'd bang my head in frustration if I wouldn't break it too]). I've practiced it a lot. I've been writing reminders to myself like that for a long time. It was one of my worst ones to write "Shut up" on my own arm to remind myself throughout the day to not talk to anyone because everything I said felt so hopelessly stupid and pointless. I was afraid of feeling worse so I hid, in silence. (I've stopped doing that during the last three years, at least.) Silence is better (golden?). New language, new meaning. Silence instead of words of despair. (I'm not positive at all it's gone. I'm moment to moment.) Silence like listening is good silence. Sometimes I do nothing but read until I feel better. (I am hating myself writing this review. Is there no chance? Next thing I'll probably write some shit like "Forgiveness is better than faith" and I'll feel hopelessly tongue tied trying to write what I feel and connect it to thoughts that are half words, parts pictures, songs from childhood. My favorite song from childhood is in my head. "I used to think that the day would never come that my life would depend on..." the setting sun! (Like Japan.) Father Rodrigues hiding in a hole and waiting for his church followers to feed them and be blessed. The hand of god... Someone else's hand... That's not good enough. Some clarity would be good.) The cover art is of a christ figure hung on the character. Jesus.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Blake Crouch

    What a devastatingly brilliant novel about faith, fanaticism, love, suffering, and ultimately, the silence of God. Why does God allow pain to flourish in the world? Why does God stand silent while the world burns? This novel, about Jesuit Portuguese missionaries in Japan in the 17th Century is gorgeously rendered, asks the hardest of hard questions, and is simply one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Very excited to see the upcoming film adaptation by Martin Scorsese. What a devastatingly brilliant novel about faith, fanaticism, love, suffering, and ultimately, the silence of God. Why does God allow pain to flourish in the world? Why does God stand silent while the world burns? This novel, about Jesuit Portuguese missionaries in Japan in the 17th Century is gorgeously rendered, asks the hardest of hard questions, and is simply one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Very excited to see the upcoming film adaptation by Martin Scorsese.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sr3yas

    It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt. The context of the above line is based on the sacrifice Jesus made for sins of humanity. Now I am going to revise this line to explain the story of Silence. For priests of Japan, it was easy enough to die as good and beautiful; the hard thing was to die as miserable and corrupt. Hailed as one of the best novels of the twentieth century, Endo's Silence creates a fascinating as wel It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt. The context of the above line is based on the sacrifice Jesus made for sins of humanity. Now I am going to revise this line to explain the story of Silence. For priests of Japan, it was easy enough to die as good and beautiful; the hard thing was to die as miserable and corrupt. Hailed as one of the best novels of the twentieth century, Endo's Silence creates a fascinating as well as thought provoking historical fiction which draws deep from theology, faith, doubt, and pure human condition. Set in the 17th century, the story introduces young Portuguese Jesuit Sebastião Rodrigues and his companions who travels to Japan to seek their mentor, father Ferreira who has gone cold. This was the time when Japan had enough of Christianity and started hunting and torturing converted Christians and their sympathizers. Also, the foreign priests were given special attention (not the good kind) by the officials. Father Ferreira was one of the priests. The news from Japan is that he has renounced his religion. Rodrigues and his friends don't believe this. The mentor they knew was the most faithful and strongest of them all. They decide to travel to Japan and investigate as well as act as priests for the underground Japanese Christian community. In the introduction, Endo states that he was writing literature while writing the story, not theology. And I chose to read the book as literature and focused not on theological aspects, but on morality and conditions, our characters went through. Nevertheless, Endo's craftsmanship as he draws parallelism between Jesus and Rodrigues is captivating. Endo also writes about tortures people had to go through because of their faith. Well, that's our world's history. Religion is like fire: It can warm a person as well as burn them to death. Here, Christians were under attack. Centuries before these incidents, Christians persecuted and tortured pagans under Constantinus II. It goes on and on and on. These people would've felt pretty stupid if Thor received them at gates of the afterlife when they died. Note: The tale begins with translator's preface, in which William Johnston, the translator, gives a brief and very interesting historical and political landscape of Japan from late 16th century and early 17th century. He talks about the dawn of Christianity in Japan, the love/hate relationship between Japanese politics and priests and Shimabara Rebellion. This fact-based set up in the initial pages of the book helped to pique my interest. Recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ines

    This is certainly one of the most difficult books I have ever reviewed, I find myself really unsure in the face of this reading. The plot is truly shocking, it is about the missionary journey of two Portuguese priests who, at the end of 17° century will embark for Japan with the desire to bring the word of Christ among these brothers. Father Rodrigues and Father Garrpe will find different destinies, the latter will still remain to a living faith dying in martyrdom together with other Catholic Jap This is certainly one of the most difficult books I have ever reviewed, I find myself really unsure in the face of this reading. The plot is truly shocking, it is about the missionary journey of two Portuguese priests who, at the end of 17° century will embark for Japan with the desire to bring the word of Christ among these brothers. Father Rodrigues and Father Garrpe will find different destinies, the latter will still remain to a living faith dying in martyrdom together with other Catholic Japanese, the first instead.... devastated by a faith crushed by psychological torture on the part of a magistrate of Nagasaki, who managed to capture him, came to give up his whole life donated to Christ until to abjure trampling on the Funie ( image of the Virgin with the child). Father Rodrigues will not be the only priest in Japan who will be reduced to abjuration, others before him will abandon faith under torture, including Father Ferreira, who participated in his psychological exhaustion together with the Magistrate Inue, in such a way as to make him yield, the famous Silence, is nothing other than the absence of a living presence of a response of Christ among us. I was hurt by this book, you get enraged in the first part by making you believe in a true missionary path, of friendship between the japanese farmers and the two priests until reaching an epilogue of this kind... there is nothing but present and verifiable in reality. The weakness of Father Rodrigues, will be the shoulder of Kihijiro's one, a poor Japanese man who was the first to betray the Priest. Perhaps the only positive character i liked is him, who even in his repugnant weakness selling the Priest to the Samurai, will always be in search and follow the priest in his every move. Despite in the depths of his corrupt soul, weak, devious and tormented life ...he will always be drawn to the end by that gaze of truth that many years before, he had known in a priest who had come to evangelize in Japan, well before Rodrigues' arrival. Yes, Kighijiro remembers in a certain way the figure of Zacchaeus on the Sycamore, curious and eager to follow the one who brings salvation, despite himself always ready to betray everything and everyone. I am very perplexed by what I have read...... What does Shūsaku Endō want to communicate with this novel? it is very controversial and i do not understand his purpose. The pain is reading about a Christ without the gift of Mistery and Salvation in the middle the men. Or Christ came to save the whole of humanity through a taste of new life or it has been greatest lie ever pulled to the destiny of man. Caravaggio -Juda's kiss (the odessa painting) Questo è sicuramente uno dei libri piu' difficili che mi sia mai capitato di recensire, mi trovo veramente insicura di fronte a questa lettura. La storia è veramente sconvolgente, altro non è che il cammino missionario di due preti portoghesi che nella fine del 1600 si imbarcheranno per il Giappone con il desiderio di portare la parola d Cristo tra questi fratelli. Padre Rodrigues e Padre Garrpe troveranno destini differenti, quest' ultimo rimarrà sempre ancorato ad una vita di fede, morendo in martirio insieme ad altri fedeli giapponesi. Il primo invece....devastato ormai da una fede schiacciata dalla tortura psicologica di un magistrato di Nagasaki che riuscì a catturarlo, arrivò a cedere tutta la sua vita donata a Cristo sino ad abiurare calpestando il Funie ( immagine della Vergine con il bambino). Padre Rodrigues non sarà l'unico Prete che in Giappone si ridurrà all'abiura, altri prima di lui abbandoneranno la fede sotto tortura, tra cui Padre Ferreira, che partecipò a sfiancarlo psicologicamente insieme al Magistrato Inue in modo tale da farlo cedere, il famoso Silenzio, altro non è che l'assenza di una presenza viva di una risposta di Cristo tra di noi. Io sono rimasta ferita da questo libro, ti irretisce nella prima parte facendoti credere ad una vero percorso missionario, di amicizia tra i contadini e i due preti, sino ad arrivare ad un epilogo del genere......ovvero, nulla vi è, se non presente e verificabile nella realtà. La debolezza di Padre Rodrigues, farà da spalla a quella di Kihijiro, un pover'uomo giapponese che fu il primo a tradire il Prete,offrendogli riso e pesce secco durante un lungo cammino per sfuggire ai Samurai, sino alla consegna in pieno tradimento, del prete a questi ultimi. Forse l'unico personaggio positivo, che pur nella sua ripugnante debolezza vendendo il Prete ai Samurai, è Kihigijiro. Egli rimarrà sempre in cerca e al seguito del prete in ogni suo spostamento, perchè nel profondo del suo animo corrotto, debole, subdolo e tormentato...sarà sempre sino alla fine attratto da quello sguardo di verità che tantissimi anni prima aveva conosciuto e trovato in un Prete arrivato ad evangelizzare in Giappone, ben prima dell' arrivo di Rodrigues. Si, Kighijiro ricorda in un certo verso la figura di Zaccheo sul Sicomoro, curioso e desideroso di seguire colui che porta la salvezza nonostante sia sempre pronto a tradire tutto e tutti. Sono molto perplessa per ciò che ho letto, cosa mi è rimasto? La verità di Cristo che senso può mai avere senza il Mistero che ognuno di noi si porta nella propria anima? cosa vuol comunicare Shūsaku Endō con questo suo romanzo? O Cristo è venuto a salvare l'umanità intera attraverso un gusto di vita nuova o è la piu grande menzogna mai tirata al destino dell'uomo.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    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 h 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    Silence is a modern classic by Shusaku Endo. On the cover a crucified Jesus hangs from Japanese writing characters. My friend, Carol, recommended this book to me awhile back and I've had it sitting on my bookshelf. Then during Holy Week while I was finishing Fr. Neuhaus’ Death on a Friday Afternoon, he mentions the heroic struggles of the European missionaries who gave their all to travel around the world to share the Gospel message. Sometimes it just seems appropriate to leave off one book and Silence is a modern classic by Shusaku Endo. On the cover a crucified Jesus hangs from Japanese writing characters. My friend, Carol, recommended this book to me awhile back and I've had it sitting on my bookshelf. Then during Holy Week while I was finishing Fr. Neuhaus’ Death on a Friday Afternoon, he mentions the heroic struggles of the European missionaries who gave their all to travel around the world to share the Gospel message. Sometimes it just seems appropriate to leave off one book and seek out another, as if you are being led to it. Silence tells a fictionalized story of what may have happened to two Portuguese priests who ventured onto mainland Japan during the persecution of the Christians around 1643. The story is told – brilliantly and poignantly – through the eyes of one Sebastian Rodrigues. The all important thing was to suffer and die a glorious martyr’s death. It was unthinkable that those who did not know Christ could devise any suffering, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual which would lead the true believer to recant—but then this was before the days of Vietnam and the Japanese POW camps. Then it was believed no pain, deprivation, imprisonment, torture of oneself or one’s fellows—however prolonged, could ever be so bad it couldn’t be endured for love of God. It was simply a matter of one’s faith and will. Silence is about the silence of God. I was 96 pages into the book before it occurred to me to keep track of all the times Shusaku Endo used the word, ‘silence’, ‘silent’ or ‘silently’, as well as words about sound. I had a feeling it was central to the story. From then until the end of the book (page 191) I counted fifty-one more times; I may have missed a few. It might have been a silly exercise—like something a high school English teacher would have you do—but I didn’t mind. And it focused my reading just when plot action came almost to a halt and most everything which was ‘happening’ was in the main character’s mind, or as experienced through his senses. Silence is a powerful book. It seems to have as much to say about East meets West as it does about evangelization, martyrdom and the true voice of God. It is one Christian man’s search for the meaning of ‘the mud swamp Japanese in me’. ‘Japan is a mud swamp because it sucks up all sorts of ideologies, transforming them into itself and distorting them in the process.’ (p. xv) Sound like another country we all know and love? Silence will leave you different than it found you. 'Be still (silent?) and know that I am God.' (Psalm 46:10)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    This was a very disturbing book for me. One that I probably won't forget for awhile. This was a very disturbing book for me. One that I probably won't forget for awhile.

  14. 5 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    2.5* The premise of a story of Catholic missionaries trying to spread Christianity in Japan really caught my interest because I have fond memories of reading Shogun, which featured a similar premise as a side-story. Although, if any of you have read Shogun "fond" may not be the best way to describe the reading experience as there lots - and I do mean LOTS - of gory descriptions of cruelty and violence. Obviously, I must have forgotten about that when I gleefully signed up to the group read of Sile 2.5* The premise of a story of Catholic missionaries trying to spread Christianity in Japan really caught my interest because I have fond memories of reading Shogun, which featured a similar premise as a side-story. Although, if any of you have read Shogun "fond" may not be the best way to describe the reading experience as there lots - and I do mean LOTS - of gory descriptions of cruelty and violence. Obviously, I must have forgotten about that when I gleefully signed up to the group read of Silence. Endo also goes into a lot of detail when describing the obstacles and hardship - read "torture and violence" - that the priests and Christians endured under the samurai rule, at a time when Christianity was banned from Japan - because the rulers decided it was of "no value" (according to one of Endo's characters) to the Japanese society. The second aspect that intrigued me to the book was, of course, that some reviews compare Endo to Graham Greene. How could I not be intrigued by that? Silence really was an intriguing read. Endo really tried to capture the mind and spirit of the priest that is sent to Japan and discovers that he may not be able to fulfill his mission and the doubt he feels when he witnesses the events around him. Unfortunately, this really didn't work for me. Endo's narrative limits the reader to experience the book only from the priest's point of view. There is not a lot of dialogue or consideration that deals with the point of view of the Japanese characters. I'm sure Endo created this limitation on purpose, maybe to focus on the priestly condition and to emphasize the isolation of the foreigner from the other people around him, but without the other perspectives the book is really limited and reads more like a list of Japanese torture methods than an investigation into the human or priestly condition. In turn, this distances Endo's work from that of Greene's. I may not have enjoyed Greene's religious musings but at least he made his protagonists doubt their mission, doubt their conviction, and consider other points of view. This was missing from Silence.

  15. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Mind-blowing. It tells about the 17th century Japan when the Tokugawa shogunate was in power. During this time, practicing Catholics were called Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") because they had to do their religious rituals underground. This was also the time of "fumie" a metal plate bearing the images of Jesus and Mary. The religious police asked the families suspected to be Catholics to trample this fumie to prove that they had not converted from Buddism. It was also during this time w Mind-blowing. It tells about the 17th century Japan when the Tokugawa shogunate was in power. During this time, practicing Catholics were called Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") because they had to do their religious rituals underground. This was also the time of "fumie" a metal plate bearing the images of Jesus and Mary. The religious police asked the families suspected to be Catholics to trample this fumie to prove that they had not converted from Buddism. It was also during this time when Portuguese missionaries arrived in Japan to further propagate the Catholic faith. This book, Silence tells the story of the Jesuit priest, Sebastian Rodriguez who has to come to Japan via Macao to find the truth about his mentor Cristobal Ferreira who is reported to have apostatized, i.e., have defected from the Catholic faith. The first few chapters of the book are told in a chronicle-like narration. Fr. Rodriguez records his day-to-day experience during his journey to Japan. Once in the country, the narration shifts to third party narrator. The shift is like journeying together with the narrator and then later looking at the whole scene as a third person. The effect is fresh and invigorating despite the too sad and serious theme of sacrificing life and bearing all the tortures just to keep one's faith in God. Its impact to me was that I should not take my belief in God for granted because missionaries (now saints and blessed ones) gave up their lives to spread the Catholic faith all over the world. Although I am living in the Philippines and Catholicism spread in the country almost with no resistance, still what some missionaries in other parts of the world played the roles of martyrs and their examples should always be remembered. The title of the book came from their question of why during this era in Japan, God had remained silent. That during the torture of the missionaries when they were asked to stay inside a small well until they were dead, God did not do anything. The question was answered at the end of the novel and it was I think an appropriate ending. I recommend this book to all religious scholars who want to know more about that era in Japan. I also recommend this to all fans of Japanese novels in English. It is just mind-blowing and bewildering in this beauty: prose, theme and content. My second Endo and he is still to disappoint. Whew!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Raul Bimenyimana

    Had it not been for the reviews I had seen from my friends whose tastes and opinions I respect, I probably would not have read this book. Reason being that I hesitate to read religious and/or atheist books because of the preaching, a condescending tone that is normally vehicle for the rant that boils down to: we are in the right, they are in the wrong and these couple of hundreds of pages will be dedicated to proving my point. And given the short description that accompanied the story I thought Had it not been for the reviews I had seen from my friends whose tastes and opinions I respect, I probably would not have read this book. Reason being that I hesitate to read religious and/or atheist books because of the preaching, a condescending tone that is normally vehicle for the rant that boils down to: we are in the right, they are in the wrong and these couple of hundreds of pages will be dedicated to proving my point. And given the short description that accompanied the story I thought that the book would somehow be one of those books, and how wrong I was, and how glad am I that there were reviews that encouraged me to read this book. It is the first half of the seventeenth century, Christianity has been outlawed in Japan and clergy members and Christians found practicing are tortured, forced to apostatize and killed. Sebastião Rodrigues, a young Jesuit priest journeys to Japan in this age to find out what happened to his mentor Ferreira, who had also been a missionary in Japan for many years, whom he looked up to and admired and still cannot believe the reports concerning his apostatizing. To provide some historical context, Western powers had already begun their exploits around the world by the period this book is set in. By the 1640s the Americas, Africa, and Asia had all in some way or other already been colonized and occupied, with slavery booming during this period. Japan, which was under an emperor no doubt, must have felt threatened by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and other European powers’ interest in Asia. Not to mention the wars the Portuguese and Spanish had been fighting in Asia against Muslims and their racist and religious disdain for Asians being non-white and non-Christian. As well as the suspicion that the Christian faith was making the citizenry less loyal to the emperor and state, Japan shut itself off in 1641 and only dealt with foreigners from an artificial island off Nagasaki, an isolation that would last two centuries. Back to the book, as Portuguese missionaries had at first enjoyed a great relationship with the government and the lords, the relationship turns sour and the persecution of Christians begins. In comes Rodrigues, an enthusiastic priest, filled with ideals as he begins his quest. Shusaku Endo is an incredible writer. His prose is magnificent, and his ability to describe the inner struggle of the priest as he faces torture and his faith is shaken, and to draw quite a portrait of the time and place was just remarkable. Silence here, the silence of God as cruelty happens is explored. We journey with Rodrigues as he hides from the authorities, as he communes with Japanese peasants, as he suffers personal loses and loses the romanticized ideals he had on life and faith. Such unforgettable characters Endo built with the treacherous Kichinjiro and the priests, Rodrigues himself, Garpe and Ferreira as well as the Japanese Christians facing persecution and the persecuting Japanese officials. I appreciate the honesty that the writer gives us with this story, honesty that is rare with books concerning faith or the lack thereof. Even though Shusaku Endo himself was a Catholic, there is no condescending here, just wonderful writing, excellently told.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This slim book by a famous Japanese author, currently being adapted into a movie by Scorsese starring the dude from Girls, is about a missionary sent to Japan in the 1600s. Christians were terribly persecuted back then; it was called the time of "Kakure Kirishitan", or Hidden Christians. Christians were forced to trample on the image of Jesus (called a fumie) or they were horribly tortured to death. And the thread of torture and death hangs over every page, so this is a tough book to read. It bri This slim book by a famous Japanese author, currently being adapted into a movie by Scorsese starring the dude from Girls, is about a missionary sent to Japan in the 1600s. Christians were terribly persecuted back then; it was called the time of "Kakure Kirishitan", or Hidden Christians. Christians were forced to trample on the image of Jesus (called a fumie) or they were horribly tortured to death. And the thread of torture and death hangs over every page, so this is a tough book to read. It brings up deep questions about faith and doubt and God in general: what is the price of faith, and what does martyrdom mean? Is it more religious to stick to one's faith - to refuse to apostatize, or trample on the fumie? Or are there circumstances in which the most religious act is to apostatize? Father Rodrigues spends much of the book wondering whether he'll have the strength to resist torture. But in the end, (view spoiler)[he is never tortured; instead, Japanese Christians are tortured until he apostatizes. Which, of course, he does immediately, because what price is his own pride compared to the slow death of those who never signed on for a trial like this? After all his steeling himself for trials to come, his decision in the end is quick and...well, easy might not be the right word, but it's barely a decision at all. (hide spoiler)] It's a response to Graham Greene's spare The Power & the Glory from 1940. It's probably a little better, although they're both excellent. I'm not a fan of books that preach to me, but this isn't a preachy book. It never asks me to believe, myself; it's just about what it means for those who do. Which, it seems like a drag and I'm glad I'm an atheist. I'll trample on whatever dumb picture you want, guys, just leave me out of it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Χαρά Ζ.

    _Silence_ I feel confused, i feel conflicted and i am struggling. My inner world is seperated in half and i cannot decide. I haven't had so much thought over an action in a long time and i know that it has to do with God and stuff, but i just, i cannot make peace with myself. What would i do in this situation? What would i do? I just... I don't know what i would do, i was angry and i wanted to cry for the sin and didn't know which one was a greater sin. Rage was pumping in my blood for all the se _Silence_ I feel confused, i feel conflicted and i am struggling. My inner world is seperated in half and i cannot decide. I haven't had so much thought over an action in a long time and i know that it has to do with God and stuff, but i just, i cannot make peace with myself. What would i do in this situation? What would i do? I just... I don't know what i would do, i was angry and i wanted to cry for the sin and didn't know which one was a greater sin. Rage was pumping in my blood for all the sensless acts of those people. *******There will be SPOILERS from here on. They will be minor, but still spoilers****** I am so angry with all the people who blame God for everything bad on the planet. The human race is evil. We are. We rape and torture and murder and demolish everyhting. Through the course of human history that's all we've been doing. I am sorry. I don't agree with you. We are responsible for evertyhing. All of us who do the bad stuff and all of us who have knowledge of that and do nothing. Stop blaming God and take responsibility. We are doing this. And i don't understand missionaries. If your God is so great and so forgiving then leave people in peace. I would leave them in peace and their sins are on me. All of their sins. Can you see that all you do is hurt? And yes, the fucking Japanese crossed all the fucking lines and they lost all the rights with all the shit they've done to people. But it's their country and it's fucked up. And then you go and make things even worse. No. Hold on. Stop the hurting. You are supposed to know better, you are supposed to be better. Let them believe in any God or no God and their sin is on me. Stop hurting them. Why did you have to go so far to understand this? His sin made me cry. And i don't know. If i were him i would probably do the same. I cannot judge him. If there is God, please forgive us.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Friar Stebin John Capuchin

    We are on our way. We are on our way. We are on our way to the temple of Paradise. A wonderfully written historical fiction by Shusaku Endo and translated by William Johnson. This story was a great thread which sticks us on the text. Still, now I carry the characters of the story. This story is about two missionaries (Frs. Sebastian Rodrigues and Garrpe) going to Japan for their mission. Their journey and the lives in the land of Japan makes the story vibrant and our hearts will be burning when we We are on our way. We are on our way. We are on our way to the temple of Paradise. A wonderfully written historical fiction by Shusaku Endo and translated by William Johnson. This story was a great thread which sticks us on the text. Still, now I carry the characters of the story. This story is about two missionaries (Frs. Sebastian Rodrigues and Garrpe) going to Japan for their mission. Their journey and the lives in the land of Japan makes the story vibrant and our hearts will be burning when we read this book. I was really immersed those three days I read this novel. They have another mission to fulfil that to find the truth behind Fr. Ferreria, who was their mentor in the seminary. They reached in Japan with a help of an apostate by the name Kichijero, who escaped from his native place after the trial of his family. But this man's lives whom we found throughout the story is really interesting. His words are sometimes hurt our minds, he is a crypto Christian and always denying the Jesus. Two Fathers, missionaries (Frs. Sebastian Rodrigues and Garrpe) were so much zealous about their call among the peasants of Japan. The way they were administering the sacraments and doing the priestly duties was very much impressed. In our modern world, we are free to move around and go for all the liturgical functions but very often for small reasons we just avoid such programmes. But when these priests arrived at this land those Christians were so happy to receive them when they offered a crucifix to those Christians they were pressing the crucifixes to their foreheads spent a long time in adoration. They were not allowed to see such things because of the ban on Christianity. Christianity was banned in Japan for many years because of the misunderstanding the rulers were having against Christianity. They were thinking that Christianity is not good for Japan. In this story, we see a governor by the name Inoue who were persecuting the Christians for their faith. Earlier I have a strange feeling about the martyrdom, the martyrs I knew from my studies were heroes but by seeing another type of martyrdom which is so cruel made my eyes watered. Like Fr. Rodrigues I too thought it as wretched, miserable like huts they lived in, like the rags in which they were clothed. But the way they receive the martyrdom is really speechless when one receives the death other faithful together will sing a song We are on our way. We are on our way. We are on our way to the temple of Paradise. this is to encourage the other to receive his prize with courage. Many things we learn from our seminary about the life of missionary but the real life is entirely different sometimes the world is so powerful to take us away from the love which we have towards Jesus and his kingdom. Another wonderful thing Endo did was how he was narrating this story parallel to the passion narrative of Jesus. The sufferings priest was undergoing he compared with that of Jesus. He says as Jesus said to the priest, When you suffer, I suffer with you. To the end, I am close to you. I never expect from Fr. Rodrigues such a reply but I am not able to judge him. I encourage everyone to read this story really it will strengthen your faith.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    Preamble Jesuit priest Francisco Xavier called Japan “the light of my heart…the country in the Orient most suited for Christianity”. Fact: Kakure or Japanese crypto-Christians, meeting in secret for 240 years…reciting a Japanese version of the “Hail Mary” and yet nobody knew what it meant for many years. Estimate: 30,000 Kakure live today in Japan. Chronology 1587- Hydeyoshi started the persecution of Christians. 1614-26 priests punished in Nagasaki. 1614-expulsion from Japan of all missionarie Preamble Jesuit priest Francisco Xavier called Japan “the light of my heart…the country in the Orient most suited for Christianity”. Fact: Kakure or Japanese crypto-Christians, meeting in secret for 240 years…reciting a Japanese version of the “Hail Mary” and yet nobody knew what it meant for many years. Estimate: 30,000 Kakure live today in Japan. Chronology 1587- Hydeyoshi started the persecution of Christians. 1614-26 priests punished in Nagasaki. 1614-expulsion from Japan of all missionaries; 70 went to exile to Macao and Manila; but 37 kept hidden, ignoring the expulsion decree, priest Cristovão Ferreira included. 1629-under Governor Tanenaka Uneme the torture toll is around 600-700 victims per day. This was a report by priest Ferreira. 1632-a letter of 22nd March accounts for the attempt to make 5 priests (and two women, Beatriz and Mary) to renounce their faith; letter recalls how they resisted the torture period of 33 days in a secluded mountain. Only little Mary, apparently, renounced. 1633-no more news from Japan 1637-Portugal; 3 Portuguese (Sebastião, João and Francisco) start preparations to travel to Japan, to investigate about Ferreira. These three were once disciples of Ferreira, a professor of Theology. In Rome there’s a man (Rubino) willing, too, to investigate about Ferreira. 1638-25th of March; a ship (nau) called Santa Isabel departs from Lisbon, headed to India. 1638-23rd July: Cape of Good Hope. 1638-9th October, Goa, India. News say that there’s been a massacre of Christians; it’s the Shimabara massacre; 35,000 Christians had rebelled? Japan had broken all ties to Portugal. 1639-1st of May, Macao, China; at “colégio” of Macao, bishop Valignano tells Sebastião, João and Francisco that he will send no more priests to Japan. And yet the 3 Portuguese continued the voyage…. all but one who stayed in Macao due to malaria. It’s against this historical backdrop that the story develops: the search for Jesuit priest Ferreira. He had been living in Japan for 33 years and then stopped sending letters. … Story goes that C.F., under torture, resigned to his faith in Nagasaki. In Macao, the Portuguese find a “weak man”, a drunken (with sake) Japanese who is willing to take them to Japan, by boat. Around 28 to 29 years old, Kichijiru was astute, though. Some missionaries described then-Japan as “a nation whose people don’t even fear death”. Now on, the book is a collection of letters. First one is by Sebastião and it speaks about the Shimabara massacre and the complicity of the Portuguese; the torture of Suitaku…and the terrible persecution of Inoue, who once was baptized. …Sebastião discloses on his religious feelings: how tender Jesus’ face appears to him in the painting Borgo San Sepulchre. … Finally in Japan: in Tomogi, near Nagasaki, where almost all the population is baptized; and yet, there’s no priest it’s been 6 years; he’s been replaced by the elder of the place: Jiisama. The Portuguese notice how poor the people are, too much agriculture work. Nevertheless, there are Portuguese words still spoken/heard. Like “padre” (priest)…”gentios” (gentiles)… and some words still sounding Portuguese…”parais” (paradise), “inheruno” (inferno). … Sebastião gets to know about Kichijiro story: his Christian relatives were burned alive while he renounced his faith. … Sebastião arrives to Goto Isle; two beggars in Tomogi asked for confession and help for their village. … (from the movie) Kichijiro had been an apostate: he renounced while relatives were burned alive… yet he changed. He is not the same in Goto: now he is a hero (maybe because he brought the Portuguese priests): he had made the general confession of his past life, he’s been “catapulted to the moon’s horns”. Sebastião discloses more on his daily life in his letters: …“for the first time I have sang with the faithful ones several chants and prayed in Japanese”…”everyone stares at me so intensely and while I speak to them, quite often, it comes to my imagination the face of That One who proffered The Mountain Sermon…why do I dream so passionately with that face?...since Scriptures do not describe it one single time… I can remake it as it pleases my imagination….Here nobody knows about Ferreira”. ...and: though officially Buddhist, Odoma village and neighboring villages of Miyahara, Dozaki and Egami kept being catholic. … Someone said that “Endo’s writing is intensely psychological (Catholic)”. I do agree, totally. It’s beautiful. No wonder M. Scorsese wanted to make a film out of this book. Above all, it’s the European perspective of the Japanese people Endo managed to do so well. Endo, the novelist, said:”I became a catholic against my will” , when a child still; then, as a young man, he departed to France and studied French catholic novelists like Georges Bernanos and François Mauriac. Philip Yancey summed up well Endo’s life:”…a struggle to give his faith a Japanese soul”. UPDATE: Now that the book turned into a movie, to be released on 23rd December. in: http://www.indiewire.com/2016/10/sile... Watching ‘Silence’ will make you feel terrible. It should. in: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/a... The triumphant second coming of Endo’s ‘Silence’ BY DAMIAN FLANAGAN in: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Set in the 17th century, a pair of Portuguese Catholic priests, Rodrigues and Garrpe, set off to the remote and mysterious island kingdom of Japan to spread Christianity and track down their mentor, Father Ferreira, who is rumoured to have committed apostasy (renounced his faith). But the Japanese government are not friendly to foreigners (this xenophobic attitude actually continues to this day!) and are particularly hostile to this new religion - is Ferreira simply dead and does a similar fate Set in the 17th century, a pair of Portuguese Catholic priests, Rodrigues and Garrpe, set off to the remote and mysterious island kingdom of Japan to spread Christianity and track down their mentor, Father Ferreira, who is rumoured to have committed apostasy (renounced his faith). But the Japanese government are not friendly to foreigners (this xenophobic attitude actually continues to this day!) and are particularly hostile to this new religion - is Ferreira simply dead and does a similar fate await Rodrigues and Garrpe? Naaah. I wasn’t impressed with this one. You know what this book needs? A story! Barely anything happens in this 300-page novel. The priests get to Japan and have to evade the authorities, they’re inevitably caught, and then it ends unmemorably. Way too much of the book is all about the Japanese authorities trying to get Rodrigues to apostatize himself by trampling on an image of Christ which gets dull fast. All it reminded me was how stupid religion is as a whole, whether it’s Christianity or Buddhism, the extraordinary cruelty it brings out in people and the total lack of critical thinking its followers exhibit. We’re right! No, we’re right! I’ll kill you for not believing in my imaginary friend! Etc. Endo lightly touches on the doubt Rodrigues feels from God’s silence (Eh? Eh? “Silence” - like the title? Eh? LITERARY...) despite his desperate prayers for help but doesn’t go any further with it. For a book ostensibly about spirituality, it’s not very deep! The book’s well-written and Endo convincingly brings this era to life, even providing a thoughtful perspective on the Japanese mentality when it came to their interpretation of Christianity - that they’re incapable of viewing Jesus as anything but a literal man, like the Buddha, rather than on a larger, more metaphorical level. But honestly, the real reason I finished this book? I just liked the edition itself as an object. It was well-designed, I liked the texture and smell of the pages, and, because it was easy to read and inoffensively dull, I just liked holding it while I read. Yeah - pretty damn superficial of me but that’s the truth! As it is, Shusaku Endo didn’t do enough to make me care about his characters or their plight and, as a result, Silence was a largely uninteresting and unexciting narrative about nothing worthwhile - a very poor and forgettable historical novel.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Endo addresses the question that so many ask - why does God stay silent in the face of human suffering? I was brought up in the church (of Scotland) and had a deep faith as a child but I started to question my faith in my late teens, eg the irrationality of believing in a supernatural being who watches and judges us throughout our lives; the irrationality of praying to or believing in a concept; that other world faiths have gods so there cannot be just one God, and to believe that there is and t Endo addresses the question that so many ask - why does God stay silent in the face of human suffering? I was brought up in the church (of Scotland) and had a deep faith as a child but I started to question my faith in my late teens, eg the irrationality of believing in a supernatural being who watches and judges us throughout our lives; the irrationality of praying to or believing in a concept; that other world faiths have gods so there cannot be just one God, and to believe that there is and that s/he is the Christians' God is to dismiss the beliefs of millions worldwide. Despite losing my faith, I've maintained an interest in religious ideas and have retained a sense of spirituality - not a belief in anything but an emotional response perhaps. Or just a curiosity. This is a deeply profound story in which we walk hand in hand with Rodrigues, a Portuguese priest who has asked to go to Japan to work, his hidden agenda being to search for his old mentor, Ferreira who, it is rumoured, has apostatized. Rarely has a book given me so much food for thought. Why was Christianity seen as such a threat to the Japanese (and to others in the course of history)? They slaughtered and tortured unknown thousands during this period. Why did Western Christians, particularly Roman Catholics, see themselves as so superior to those they converted? Why were they so patronising when Jesus had taught that all men are equal in the eyes of God? Once imprisoned by the Japanese who want him to apostatize, Rodrigues starts to identify his journey with that of Christ's last few days. He sees that martyrdom can be perceived as sheer vanity, that it is an act performed for the self rather than for others, in the belief that the church will reward them with sainthood in due course. Rodrigues embarks on a spiritual journey from the blindness of faith over reason to the stubbornness of faith in the face of blinding reality. When he reaches the point where he must apostatize or die, I was with him every step of the tortured way towards his final decision. This is an exhausting book but not one that I will easily forget. The inventiveness of Japanese methods of torture is stomach churning but has parallels with the Inquisition - which raises more questions? Why were men of God guilty of such despicable cruelty towards their fellow men? How did they reconcile this with their faith and the teachings of the Bible? Why did God remain silent then too? This is probably the longest review I've ever written to date. Perhaps this book is best read by a book group so that all of these questions can be discussed properly. Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about this book and discussing it with anyone who will listen for a long time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Introduction, by Martin Scorsese Historical Note --Silence Appendix: Diary of an officer at the Christian residence

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~

    Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars Hm. Truly, I flickered between being super interested in this & falling asleep while reading it. I enjoy religious themes, especially when presented in conflict, but somehow this small book manages to feel long winded with dry patches throughout. Read for BookTube-a-Thon 2018! Challenge: Read a book & then watch the film adaption!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Excellent, possibly the best Catholic novel I've ever read. Everyone should read this though. It's not just a Catholic novel. Going through a reread. Excellent, possibly the best Catholic novel I've ever read. Everyone should read this though. It's not just a Catholic novel. Going through a reread.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joy D

    Set in 17th century Japan, this work of historical fiction tells the story of Sebastian Rodrigues, a devout Portuguese priest whose beliefs are tested to the breaking point. At this point in history, Christianity is being eradicated from Japan by leaders who see it as a threat. An earlier missionary-priest is rumored to have apostatized and Rodrigues hopes to find him. It is based on a real episode in history, but the specifics have been lost to time. Endō fills in a possible scenario and tells Set in 17th century Japan, this work of historical fiction tells the story of Sebastian Rodrigues, a devout Portuguese priest whose beliefs are tested to the breaking point. At this point in history, Christianity is being eradicated from Japan by leaders who see it as a threat. An earlier missionary-priest is rumored to have apostatized and Rodrigues hopes to find him. It is based on a real episode in history, but the specifics have been lost to time. Endō fills in a possible scenario and tells a powerful story in the process. I recommend going into the story without reading any prefaces that may be included, as it contains spoilers for the outcome. It is not didactic. It highlights the need for compassion and understanding above rigid adherence to doctrine.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anand

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. [What follows is a rambling writing on the book, interspersed with a few major spoilers) Shusaku Endo's Silence is one of the strangest yet most engrossing novels I've read, alongside other religious novels like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Wise Blood. It's a short book, about two hundred or so pages, yet there's some of the most intense, sustained religious storytelling I've ever read in any novel. The resonant, repeated echoes of the cross, of silence, and of the face of Chr [What follows is a rambling writing on the book, interspersed with a few major spoilers) Shusaku Endo's Silence is one of the strangest yet most engrossing novels I've read, alongside other religious novels like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Wise Blood. It's a short book, about two hundred or so pages, yet there's some of the most intense, sustained religious storytelling I've ever read in any novel. The resonant, repeated echoes of the cross, of silence, and of the face of Christ are compelling in a book who's title is Silence and a story whose major turning point centers around the face of Christ. The swamp/root/plant verbal echoes are important, considering how the story has the East-West subtext informing its treatment of the Catholic missionary enterprise. The novel certainly deserves the praise of such writers as Garry Wills, John Updike, David Mitchell, and Irving Howell. It's one of the most compelling retellings of the Passion narrative/mythos transmitted into a Japanese cultural context centering around a Portugese missionary effort in a story written by a twentieth-century Japanese Catholic author, later turned into a film in the 21st century by Italian-American director Martin Scorsese. Needless to say, Silence is itself a story of strong intertextuality, cultural and otherwise. I'm interested in how Silence intercuts between the first-person perspective of Rodrigues, which lasts until about chapter 5, where the narrative voice shifts to a third-person. The prose style is very lucid, simple to read, yet deep enough to sustain the verbal echoes of silence ('silent' 'silence' and other similar plays on this idea) and the face of Christ, as well as the narrative echoes of the Passion story. It's clear that Endo wants us to think of the Passion story, and of the story of Christ, in order to better respond to Rodrigues' individual story. What's interesting about the story is that, however controversial its climax is, when Rodrigues tramples on the fumie, it incorporates and welcomes various responses to persecution and suffering. Mokichi and Ichizo, as well as Garrpe, suffer the persecutions head-on; they die the glorious martyrdoms. Kichijiro remains a Judas figure, and Endo sustains the Judas-Kichijiro echoes (and the Rodrigues-Christ echoes too), yet the fact that he wants to remain a Christian and receive forgiveness elevates him, if only a little, above the betrayer of our Lord. In addition, I can't help but wonder if Rodrigues' trampling intends to resemble not so much Judas' betrayal but Peter's triple denial of Christ: The priest placed his foot on the fumie. Dawn broke. And in the distance the cock crew. If we understand the Bible, it's clear that Peter was restored and became the great leader of the Christians in the Book of Acts and later on, and, according to Catholicism, became the first Holy Father. Of course, Endo doesn't make the direct comparisons between Rodrigues and Peter as much as he does between Rodrigues and Christ, but for those who are well-read in the Bible, the details of the dawn and the cock are clearly meant to echo Peter's denial. Yet Rodrigues' public denial is not a wholesale apostasy, and neither was Peter's denial. I believe that's what we are intended to read in the novel, and that's how I read it. The prose style is composed of simple sentences and vocabulary, with bits of descriptive prose that capture the natural beauty of the Japanese environment in simple sentences and in simple impressions. The style is equipped to carry on the verbal echoes of the New Testament, of Catholic texts, while remaining stripped-down and bare (though not bare-bones). The resonant echoes of silence and Christ's face work and make the book's drama that much more powerful. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    4.5 stars This is an extremely powerful and deep exploration of faith. It takes place in 17th century Japan where Portuguese priests (missionaries) travel to minister to the Christian peasants. This was a time when Christians were hunted down and tortured and forced to renounce their beliefs. When one of the priests is given the choice to renounce to save Christians from being tortured he has to face his own beliefs and fears. This wasn't a fun book to read but I'm really glad I read it. I learne 4.5 stars This is an extremely powerful and deep exploration of faith. It takes place in 17th century Japan where Portuguese priests (missionaries) travel to minister to the Christian peasants. This was a time when Christians were hunted down and tortured and forced to renounce their beliefs. When one of the priests is given the choice to renounce to save Christians from being tortured he has to face his own beliefs and fears. This wasn't a fun book to read but I'm really glad I read it. I learned some things about a time period I knew virtually nothing about.

  29. 4 out of 5

    BookMonkey

    Rating: 5🍌 Despite my interest in Japanese literature I had not tackled any of Shusaku Endo's works, and when I picked up SILENCE I was skeptical: the jacket copy described a story of a Portuguese priest struggling with his faith in 17th-century Japan as "gripping." I could not imagine how this could be true. Novels centered on religious faith are not my favorite genre; even the religion-heavy entries of Graham Greene's oeuvre -- which I consumed feverishly over the course of a few months about 1 Rating: 5🍌 Despite my interest in Japanese literature I had not tackled any of Shusaku Endo's works, and when I picked up SILENCE I was skeptical: the jacket copy described a story of a Portuguese priest struggling with his faith in 17th-century Japan as "gripping." I could not imagine how this could be true. Novels centered on religious faith are not my favorite genre; even the religion-heavy entries of Graham Greene's oeuvre -- which I consumed feverishly over the course of a few months about 15 years ago -- I find more tedious than his others. I'm happy to report that I was completely wrong. SILENCE is one of the most compelling, thought-provoking, affecting novels I've read in years. Based on historical events, the narrative traces the 17th-century journey of Father Sebastian Rodrigues, a Portuguese Catholic priest who has left Europe to track down his old mentor, Father Ferreira, who has disappeared while on a religious mission in Japan. Shockingly to those who knew him, rumors suggest that Ferreira has apostatized, something Rodrigues cannot believe. After a stopover in the Portuguese colony of Macau, Rodrigues and his companions arrive in an Edo-era Japan that is hostile to Christians -- after decades of tolerating Christian proselytizing in the name of colonial European powers, the Japanese authorities finally had enough. By the time Rodrigues lands near Nagasaki, Christianity has been banned in the country and the Japanese authorities are actively persecuting priests and practicing Christians. At the beginning of his search for Ferreira, Rodrigues is undaunted, drawing strength from the glorious stories of martyrs from his religious education and the mental image of the beautiful, loving face of Christ in his suffering. But as Rodrigues witnesses persecution of Japanese Christians he begins to question his faith. This internal battle propels the novel just as much as the external events as Rodrigues makes his way through rural Japan ministering to secret Christians and trying to gather information about his former mentor. His journey roughly parallels events in the New Testament, complete with a Judas figure and a Pilate figure. Above all, SILENCE is an interrogation of the notion of faith in the face of an invisible, silent God. Throughout Rodrigues' journey he continually appeals to God as Christians suffer before his eyes, but to no avail. Time and again he wonders why God refuses to speak while innocent Christians are being killed, and his belief in the fundamental precepts of Christian theology begins to erode as the novel progresses. When God finally does speak to Rodrigues, at the moment of his greatest test of faith, the effect is stunning. The novel's structure is noteworthy. The first section of the book is told in epistolary form, comprising letters that Rodrigues has sent back to his fellow priests in Portugal. The second section of the book is told in third person. An appendix follows the main narrative and takes the form of an official government report. Written in a dry, bureaucratic style and filled with names hitherto unknown to the reader, it may be tempting to skip this final part -- after all, the climax of the novel clearly takes place in the second part of the novel. But the appendix is, in my opinion, important, shedding new light on Rodrigues' character and perhaps on Endo's interests as a novelist, and for that reason I encourage readers to read it carefully. I've seen other GR reviewers suggest that atheists or those not interested in Christianity will not find value in SILENCE. I respectfully disagree. Beyond the concepts of Christian faith, Endo explores apostasy and the belief in symbols/ideas. This is relevant in multiple contexts, including dogmatic political ideologies and the concepts of blind nationalism, patriotism, and devotion to national symbols -- something that has caused no amount of anguish throughout the world in recent years. Perhaps we would all be better served if a few more people read this novel today.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Sebastian Rodruiges, a Portuguese priest, enters Japan secretly to administer to persecuted Christians. His mission is an abject failure and he is captured. Can he retain his faith in the most difficult circumstances, facing the torture of himself and other innocents? There is also the shadowy figure of Father Ferreira, a former mentor who has been in Japan for twenty years, and who has renounced Christianity. The two men are brought together and Ferreira explains how and why he has lost his fait Sebastian Rodruiges, a Portuguese priest, enters Japan secretly to administer to persecuted Christians. His mission is an abject failure and he is captured. Can he retain his faith in the most difficult circumstances, facing the torture of himself and other innocents? There is also the shadowy figure of Father Ferreira, a former mentor who has been in Japan for twenty years, and who has renounced Christianity. The two men are brought together and Ferreira explains how and why he has lost his faith in God. A powerful exploration of the tension between faith and principles and the practical impulse to relieve the suffering of others when locked in a hopeless situation. It is easy to see why it has been turned into a film - grand canvases to paint and all that.

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