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Wonderful Fool

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  404 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Here we meet the gentle, self-sacrificing French youth, Gaston Bonaparte, a descendent of Napoleon. His trusting love of both people and animals makes all who meet him change their lives for the better. Gaston's adventures in modern Japan are presented as a kind of fable, yet, with complete realism and keen social satire. A Peter Owen Modern Classics.
Paperback, 237 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 1959)
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(showing 1-30)
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Eddie Watkins
Aug 05, 2009 Eddie Watkins rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
Essentially a Christ parable set in post WWII Japan, wherein a French doofus with a horse face enters the lives of two Japanese siblings with the intention of doing freelance missionary work. There's a Kurosawa-like descent through urban underbellies (the harrowing of Hell) and an ultimate apotheosis in the form of a white egret (resurrection); and also, to lighten the load, flatulus japonica jokes are in abundance (the Fool's nickname is "Gas"). Despite the transparent Spielbergian mastery of m ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a really interesting edition of Wonderful Fool from the 1970s while travelling in Buenos Aires. Apparently this was an English-language version for gaijin living or travelling in Japan. I have actually had some trouble finding the cover on the web, but this photo will give you some sense of very cool minimalist design. Interestingly, I found an old note written in Japanese as a bookmark between a few pages.

As for the book itself there are some great qual
Mar 10, 2017 Aidaalkhufash rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I didn't expect this book to be so good, gripping and telling when I first read about it. Shūsaku Endō did a great job on changing one's way of looking at the love and hate in the world. I just wish more people would be like Gaston. That'd wonderful.
Jun 11, 2017 Azzah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, this book gives me a quite major confusion as the author basically "charts his misadventures with irony, satire and humanity" so to give a review like how I usually do is quite challenging and even now I can't explicitly point out the ironic and the 'satire' part of the book.... The book nevertheless intrigued me so much that I often find myself unable to stop flicking the page. It's about a simplistic guy who I assumed was extremely naïve about the world and too innocent, could change ...more
Feb 21, 2011 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Wonderful Fool' is the story of Gaston Bonaparte, a man like no other who is about to arrive from France (via various stops) by boat to Japan where his pen~friend Takamori and his sister, Tomoe are waiting for him. From the minute they meet him, their lives are changed forever, Gaston Bonaparte makes an impression wherever he goes.

What I thought of 'Wonderful Fool' ~

I have had 'Wonderful Fool' on my to be read pile for a few months and I am sorry I did not read it sooner, what an amazing book!
M.R. Dowsing
This has the typical flaws to be found in some of Endo's books - sentimentality, a bit too much use of coincidence in the plot, and a tendency to spell things out a little more than necessary. These flaws are mitigated by his dry humour, often gritty realism, and the fact that he is a truly great writer of character and narrative. I liked the way in which Endo casts himself as the "villain" in this. Only the character of the "wonderful fool" himself did not quite work for me but I still found th ...more
Aug 07, 2010 Faez rated it it was amazing
Endo is the master of the well written novel. In spite of the emotional heart of his novel, he keeps all the elements of fiction in mind and develops a perfect plot. Wonderful Fool is about post war Japan and the swamp of hatred and spiritual bankruptcy which plagued people. I have finished a translation of this novel into Arabic (based on the English translation) and the reason for my choice is the situation in my country Iraq right now. I am amazed at how history repeats itself.
Nov 30, 2016 Pascale rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As ponderous and repetitive as "Silence". This is the story of Gaston Bonaparte, a huge and ungainly fellow from Savoy who, for reasons unknown, arrives one day in Japan, apparently expecting his former pen-pal Takamori to put him up. Although flummoxed by Gaston's cheek, the spendthrift Takamori, his bossy sister Tomoe and their widowed mother do everything they can to welcome him with the customary Japanese hospitality. But in fact, Gaston has no intention of staying put with his hosts. Gentle ...more
Tomi Pakei
A warmhearted tyrant
'Mudswamp [Japan]'is a term coined by Shusaku Endo. Roughly meaning (as far as I can grasp):
a not so good [societal] condition considered OK for being taken for granted for too long a time [by too many people]
'Wonderful Fool' is a story about people living a mudswamp life, and the fear some of them have of freeing themselves from it. All told
through a simpleton who somehow always manages to inflict damages on people's dark(est) sides--relentlessly attacking their insecurit
Sep 11, 2010 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Before I began reading Wonderful Fool, I was a little lukewarm on modern Japanese literature. I have read the classics like The Tale of Genji, and other classical works, and also some modern-ish authors, as well as Endo's Silence. Wonderful Fool is certainly one of the best books in the modern Japanese literature pantheon.

At first glance, it seemed to me like there wasn't much point to the whole thing. I think that's where Endo wanted us to go. But towards the end, things really start to come to
Trevor Kew
Oct 11, 2016 Trevor Kew rated it really liked it
Shelves: kewjapan, kew-f
This was a whimsical, wonderful novel that caught me by surprise (not least because of its dour cover which bears no relation to its contents...just a weird pair of photos of the author!). In Gaston the eccentric Frenchman who visits Japan, Endo has created one of the stranger and more memorable characters that a reader will encounter in contemporary Japanese fiction.

There are many humourous scenes, as when Gaston stumbles into a "love hotel" in Shibuya while searching for accommodation, and som
Shah Saguna
Aug 09, 2011 Shah Saguna rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This is a feel good book. It echoes christianity. Frenchman Gaston Bonaparte a descendent of Napolean, comes to Japan to meet his penpal (set during the 1950's) Takamori and his sister Tomoe. This horse-faced simpleton embarasses them in the begining but gradually they come to know this wonderful fool has a lovely heart. He is a simple man who makes friends with stray dogs, prostitues and gangsters. Despite being betrayed several times he still trust them and feels good for them. In todays world ...more
Nov 03, 2008 Phillip rated it it was amazing
I found this novel to be a sweet discovery. This story of how a Japanese family is affected when they are visited by a descendant of Napoleon serves, among other things, as a satire of modern Tokyo of the 60's, a society that in many regards reflects our own. Saying much more would destroy the reading experience. Even now, I wonder if I've said too much. My quandary is how to sell the book without building up the reader's expectations to the point that they can only be disappointed when they rea ...more
Celeste Chia
Sep 23, 2015 Celeste Chia rated it liked it
Japanese books have an odd charm to them. The plot device and language are deceptively simple and make what might seem like a breezy read, but certain moments make you pause and remark about humanity in general. Endo, like other Japanese authors I have read, is sympathetic towards good hearted people who don't finish first in life, making the fiction a refreshing change from what I'm used to. The turn of events in the book is entertaining and I felt like I was watching a movie -- making me excit ...more
Kiran Krishna
Jul 15, 2013 Kiran Krishna rated it really liked it
Its so lively not bound by any time tag....we can feel the story happening not.. in japan..but in our home town....we can see the characters before you when u read like a seems that author want to redefine the meaning of adjectives like .Climax is good....Bold...sympathy..empathy.. etc...
these lines in climax in the letter from protagonist Gaston... remain in u..
i have failed three times to pass the entrance examination to the mission i won't be able to become a m
Joe Meservy
Oct 09, 2010 Joe Meservy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
This book is probably my favorite Japanese book to date. It is written with a hero character and deals with culture clash between Japanese persons and a foreigner. It has a captivating/creative plot and the author is one of the most notable authors of Japan. His prose is excellent and he was nominated for a nobel prize for literature at one point. He was also considered the favorite to win. In any event, this was a very funny and interesting read.
Nov 18, 2010 Chase rated it it was amazing
Endo wrote two types of books, his serious works and his "entertainments". This is the later. Napoleon's great nephew comes to Japan to help people out, but he is inept. He can barely speak the language, he doesn't understand the customs, he doesn't realize that he is embarrassing the family who agrees to put him up, he's a train wreck. He ends up crossing roads with a Japanese gangster who hates him, and treats him badly, but he wants to help this man. hilarity ensues.
Funny, and kind of quaint, revolving around an underworld killer (named Endo), his attempt at vigilante justice of two war criminals (WWII), and the dimwitted, stray dog loving, kindly-Christian Fool's attempt at intervention. Some well drawn depictions of inner city scenes, and the northern mountains, and there's even a scene or two of suspense - apparently this was originally serialized. It's not grand or without flaws in plot, but it left a nice feeling with this reader.
Chris Queen
Jul 21, 2013 Chris Queen rated it it was amazing
When I began this one I wondered if I would enjoy it as much as I did other Endo books like The Samurai and The Girl I Left Behind. Slowly, the titular character, a Frenchman visiting Japan slowly transforms from a gangly, bumbling foreigner to a sort of Christ figure, leading to a surprisingly satisfying ending. Good stuff for a sort of second tier Endo.
Feb 08, 2013 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: worldview, taught-em
Hm... okay... We got this approved for school, so I was reading it as a possibility for the Asian lit unit, but I'm not sure because it's pretty slow. I like the ending a lot, and there are some powerful moments -- cleaner and more substantial than When I Whistle, but still not as moving as Silence.
Germaine Marie
Jul 05, 2014 Germaine Marie rated it really liked it
Outstanding, typical of Endo, and an absolutely pleasure to read. The story really does hook you into the main characters life. Who is the wonderful fool? Is he ill? Stupid? In the beginning he annoys with his sheer naivety , by the end of the book I was crying at his compassion. Highly recommend , and a very easy book to read.
Dec 03, 2012 Diane rated it it was ok
I could not get into this book. Endo is one of the "greats" of Japanese authors I had heard, but I had to idea what was going in in Wonderful Fool. Very odd book. An annoying story. Did not finish. Too many books, too little time . . .
Olivier Lepetit
Jan 18, 2014 Olivier Lepetit rated it really liked it
I was not really expecting much of this book, but it truly gripped me. Poetic in substance, bizarre in premise and a brilliant pageturner, one can't help but fall for this strange, giant Frenchman putting his mark on 1960s Japan.
Terry Clees
Jan 13, 2014 Terry Clees rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful read about a perceived simpleton, Gaston, who finds himself in Japan with one goal: to love everyone and everything. Endo, as always, tells a great story that draws the reader in emotionally.
Jun 12, 2013 Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sentimental and, perhaps, overly heart-string-tugging, but charming. Well-paced and driven, with a clear plot and well-drawn characters--an easy introduction to the author.
Sep 03, 2007 Robert rated it liked it
Shelves: japan
Endo turns the tables on us by writing a novel about an inscrutable occidental.
Mar 01, 2014 Maddie rated it did not like it
About a clueless but well-meant foreigner in Japan, from the point of view of his Japanese hosts. So rated because I really do not like allegories...
Aug 12, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A book that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable. Anyone with any knowledge of the Christian faith will understand the allegory.
James Wayne Proctor
My rating is based upon imaginary quality. the translation is so very bad ("I'll tell daddy of you!") that I can only guess at how good Endo's novel actually is.
Apr 07, 2012 cassandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
quite the unexpected superhero story; human and entertaining.
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Shusaku Endo (遠藤 周作), born in Tokyo in 1923, was raised by his mother and an aunt in Kobe where he converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of eleven. At Tokyo's Keio University he majored in French literature, graduating BA in 1949, before furthering his studies in French Catholic literature at the University of Lyon in France between 1950 and 1953. A major theme running through his books, which ...more
More about Shūsaku Endō...

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“To be a saint or a man of too good a nature in today's pragmatic world, with everyone out to get the other fellow, was equivalent to being a fool, wasn't it?” 9 likes
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