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Silence

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  21,368 ratings  ·  2,848 reviews
Beneath the light of the candle I am sitting with my hands on my knees, staring in front of me. And I keep turning over in my mind the thought that I am at the end of the earth, in a place which you do not know and which your whole lives through you will never visit.

It is 1640 and Father Sebastian Rodrigues, an idealistic Jesuit priest, sets sail for Japan determined to he
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Paperback, 201 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Taplinger Publishing (first published 1966)
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Roxana Chirilă I can't know for sure if my hunch is true, but your question strikes me as very American. I come from a country where the best education you can get…moreI can't know for sure if my hunch is true, but your question strikes me as very American. I come from a country where the best education you can get is in state universities. If I'm not much mistaken, the same is true in Japan. You see, education isn't just a personal asset - if the people in a city will be better educated, they will be able to do more, produce more, and improve the life of those around them.

(Alternately, you could be Russian - but I think in Russia the government is more likely to demand, rather than pay for what it wants.)

Japan is very much aware that education can be a national asset: their borders were closed until 1868, when they were still a feudal empire. When they opened their borders, they realized they were behind in all sorts of ways, culturally, technologically etc. Perhaps others would have been overwhelmed, but not Japan: they sent students abroad, brought them back to teach others, invited foreigners to teach, started the industrial revolution and so on.

While Susaku Endo wasn't part of the first wave of students who got scholarships, the point remains: students are given access to tools in order to improve themselves and therefore improve things back home, rather than to promote any specific political or patriotic purpose.

So, to answer your question: we can't know for sure, but it's highly unlikely that they did. They'd want him to write well and improve Japanese literature, surely, but I doubt they'd micro-manage their writers and artists in that particular way.(less)
Gloomy Monday Shusaku Endo's writing style is pretty dry and the book does start off quite boring but it quickly picks up and it's actually absolutely harrowing. A…moreShusaku Endo's writing style is pretty dry and the book does start off quite boring but it quickly picks up and it's actually absolutely harrowing. A great read.

(I just saw this question is from two years ago... Well, better late than sorry I guess).(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  21,368 ratings  ·  2,848 reviews


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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.”

 photo ChristianMartyrsOfNagasaki_zpssyl4fq5l.jpg
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 Francisca
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Jim Fonseca
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

description

The main character
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AMEERA
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Laura Leaney
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Darwin8u
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, aere-perennius
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."
-- Wittgenstein, Tractus Logico-Philosophicus 7

description

The novel started off a bit slow, but once it hit its pace it was 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
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Mariel
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my day depends on the setting sun
Recommended to Mariel by: george michael's faith
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
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William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, 20-ce, translation
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...
Sr3yas
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 tho
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Blake Crouch
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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BrokenTune
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
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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 ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
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
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Owlseyes inside Notre Dame, it's so strange a 15-hour blaze and...30-minutes wait to call the firemen...and
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
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Loretta
This was a very disturbing book for me. One that I probably won't forget for awhile.
Sam Quixote
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Χαρά Ζ.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
_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
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Alex
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, 2015
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
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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!
Edward
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduction, by Martin Scorsese
Historical Note


--Silence

Appendix: Diary of an officer at the Christian residence
Fr Stabin John Capuchin
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
description
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
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Anand
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fiona
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Manny
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Amanda
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Cindy Rollins
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy reading this. From page one I recognized (rather uncomfortably) Father Rodriques, the passionate, naive priest. I knew where this was heading. But I cannot deny that Endo drew the picture as craftily and subtly as any portrait I have ever read. In the end, we see a God much bigger than Rodriques, or I, imagined.

As to the torture and suffering, it is unbearable to read and made me feel ashamed at every turn.

I was quite surprised and pleased by the appropriately sudden ending. I
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Sam
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
I read this as part of a November group read for All About Books, and was initially interested in it because it is set in Japan, one of my favorite countries I've visited, and because I had read about the forthcoming Scorsese movie/passion project, and wanted to read the book first. I didn't know quite what to expect from it, other than that Silence is thought of as a modern classic and it's a slim little volume (my PB is just over 200 pages).

About half of the novel is told in an epistolary form
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Clif Hostetler
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Silence tells the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan, who endures persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion.

A persistent theme of this book is the silence of God for a believer facing adversity.

Questions raised by Silence include:

• Where is God’s voice?

• Why is God silent in the midst of suffering?

• How may an individual’s actions (or silence) contribute to suffering?

• How can human beings inflict
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Ray
Nov 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
David
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly among the most profound and stirring books I have read that address the issues of faith. While this is based on the true events in japan, jesuit/christian missionaries going over to convert the japanese people and the subsequent fallout and harsh persecution of the people who practiced christianity. Part of my interest lies in my background with Jesuits and my Catholic/Christian faith. But I think that this book goes well beyond this scope and quite honestly my offend or disturb m ...more
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Reading 1001: Silence by Shūsaku Endō 5 18 Sep 21, 2019 06:54PM  
Fanatieke Nederla...: Maandboek september: Stilte 14 61 Sep 12, 2018 01:48PM  
Essays: Silence by Endo Shusaku (General Comments) 6 6 Jul 20, 2018 08:02PM  

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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
“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.” 240 likes
“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.” 154 likes
More quotes…