Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Father Rodrigues is an idealistic Portuguese Jesuit priest who, in the 1640s, sets sail for Japan on a determined mission to help the brutally oppressed Japanese Christians and to discover the truth behind unthinkable rumours that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. Once faced with the realities of religious persecution Rodrigues himself is forced to make an impossible choice: whether to abandon his flock or his God.

Winner of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, Silence is Shusaku Endo's most highly acclaimed novel and a classic of its genre. It caused major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967.

Silence is now a major film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver.

238 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1966

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Shūsaku Endō

351 books855 followers
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 have been translated into many languages, including English, French, Russian and Swedish, is the failure of Japanese soil to nurture the growth of Christianity. Before his death in 1996, Endo was the recipient of a number of outstanding Japanese literary awards: the Akutagawa Prize, Mainichi Cultural Prize, Shincho Prize, and Tanizaki Prize.
(from the backcover of Volcano).

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
11,623 (37%)
4 stars
12,445 (39%)
3 stars
5,581 (17%)
2 stars
1,312 (4%)
1 star
335 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,027 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
May 20, 2019
“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 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?

 photo Silence_zpstamkoatx.jpg
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…

“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.”

 photo 45bff0a8-981e-4c47-bdb8-96b27bba6326_zpsuovxx24n.png
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.

 photo Martin20Scorsese_zpspyhbepui.jpg
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
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,079 reviews6,891 followers
September 23, 2017
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
Profile Image for Laura Leaney.
461 reviews103 followers
August 14, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,669 followers
October 26, 2019
"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."
Profile Image for William2.
737 reviews2,881 followers
February 9, 2017
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...
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,001 reviews1,288 followers
June 20, 2022
سرد ممتع يرصد صدام التراث والمعتقدات بين اليابان وأوروبا
من خلال الاضطهاد الديني للمسيحية في اليابان في القرن السابع عشر
وصول الرهبان لليابان ورفض السلطات اليابانية للديانة الجديدة
وأساليب الترغيب ثم الترهيب والتعذيب لرد المسيحيين إلى البوذية
أبدع شوساكو إندو في تصوير حال الراهب البرتغالي بعد أسره
الجدل والحوار الذاتي وحيرته وصراعه النفسي
وتساؤلاته عن الإيمان واليقين, الشر والخطيئة, المحبة والتضحية
والأهم أثر الضعف الانساني ورهبة الألم والمعاناة على اختيارات البشر
Profile Image for Blake Crouch.
Author 77 books44.6k followers
November 21, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,047 followers
June 13, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews996 followers
June 17, 2017
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.

August 16, 2018
Η «σιωπή» είναι ένα ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα κραυγαλέων συγκρούσεων.
Αυτή η σιωπή, αποτελείται απο κραυγές και ουρλιαχτά, απο ηχηρά γέλια αφοσίωσης, απο εσωτερικούς μονολόγους συνείδησης, απο βογγητά πόνου, απο αναστεναγμούς προδοσίας, απο φωνές σιωπηλής θυσίας κι απο έντονη, δυνατή, ηχηρή μα αθόρυβη ανάγκη κατανόησης της φυσικής ύπαρξης του θεϊκού ανθρώπου που συγκρούεται με τον ανθρώπινο θεό.

Η ουσία «της σιωπής» βρίσκεται πολύ απλά σε μια δεδομένη ικανότητα.
Ο Θεός φωνάζει σε οποιονδήποτε θέλει να ακούσει το σιωπηλό του μυστήριο.

Το βιβλίο μας ταξιδεύει μαζί με τους ευρωπαίους ιεραποστόλους στην Ιαπωνία,
κάπου στα μέσα του 1600
με σκοπό να διαδώσουν και να διατηρήσουν τη θρησκεία του χριστιανισμού στον βάλτο της ιαπωνικής κουλτούρας.

Την εποχή εκείνη οι αρχές της Ιαπωνίας ξεκινούν εκστρατείες διώξεων, συλλήψεων και βασανιστηρίων των χριστιανών, με ιδιαίτερη έμφαση σε ιερείς και ιεραπόστολους.

Ο ιεραπόστολος Σεμπάστιαν Ροντρίγκες,
φθάνει κρυφά στην Ιαπωνία για να διαδώσει τον καθολικισμό.
Αφού συλλαμβάνεται και γίνεται θύμα ψυχολογικού εκβιασμού και προπαγανδιστικής αξίας προδοτών, αρχίζει να φιλοσοφεί την ανθρώπινη ιστορία της θεολογίας.
Μια θεολογία όπου η υψηλότερη μορφή αγάπης είναι η αποστασία, την οποία ενθαρρύνει ο ίδιος ο Χριστός ως μορφή πίστης και θυσίας προς τον συνάνθρωπο.

Όλη η εξέλιξη της ιστορίας μας είναι πασπαλισμένη με την συμβολική μεταμοντέρνα ιδέα της πίστης πως ο Θεός είναι σιωπηλός μπροστά στα δεινά των Χριστιανών.
Ως ρηχή θεολογική μοιρολατρία μπορεί να γίνει αποδεκτή η ιδέα της σιωπής...αλλά σε ένα βαθύτερο επίπεδο προφανώς και υπάρχει εξήγηση που απαντάει σαφέστατα σχετικά με την σιωπή του Θεού.

Διαβάζεται ως ένα μυθιστόρημα ιδεών, πνευματικών και θρησκευτικών ζητημάτων, ψυχολογικής αναζήτησης, συνειδησιακής αξιακής αποτίμησης, αποικιοκρατίας, εμπορίου, διαπολιτισμικής ανάμειξης.

Η σύγκρουση που πρωταγωνιστεί είναι απλή και σαφής. Τα ζητήματα όμως που προκύπτουν είναι πολύπλοκα και εξαρτώνται απο εσωτερικούς και εξωτερικούς παράγοντες μεταβλητής εμπειρίας και ερευνητικής αμφισβήτησης.

Μια λυπηρή, σκοτεινή και βαθιά πνευματική συνειδητοποίηση που διαβάζεται με πολλούς διαφορετικούς τρόπους.

Καλή ανάγνωση
Πολλούς ασπασμούς
Profile Image for Ines.
317 reviews185 followers
December 9, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
687 reviews568 followers
October 13, 2021
106th book of 2021.

4.5. Brilliant. I bought this in London last weekend visiting my old university housemate and began reading it at once on the Tube journeys back out of central London towards his home. Despite the throng of passengers, sometimes heat, and sometimes those awful screeching sounds, I was completely absorbed when reading on the Tube and often worried about missing our stop. Like other Japanese writers, Endō's prose is sparse and sharp. As a setting, 1640 Japan is utterly compelling and Endō writes it beautifully and convincingly.
I felt a drop of water on my cheek, and looking up saw a huge black cloud like a finger floating across the surface of a sky that had now become leaden and murky. The drops became more numerous until at last a blanket of rain enveloped the whole plain like the strings of a harp. Catching sight of a copse of trees quite near to me I ran into them with all speed. Out flew a number of birds like an arrow from the bow and sped off in search of shelter. The rain struck the leaves where I stood, making a noise like pebbles pattering on a roof. My peasant clothes were completely drenched; the treetops, swaying in the silver rain, looked just like seaweed.

Most of the novel is through the eyes (set up as letters but reads like a first-person narrative all the same) of Father Sebastian Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. At the time, the Christians in Japan were being oppressed and brutalised, and Rodrigues and another priest set out to spread the religion of Christianity in a country that resisted it. They are also looking for news of their mentor, who they heard had renounced his faith under torture.

Arrival of a Portuguese Ship

Despite being a thoughtful and philosophical novel, it also has moments of great tension as the priests are essentially hunted through 1600s Japan. As it progresses the theme of the novel comes to light, as does the title: Why is God silent? And it progresses as, Why do bad things happen to good people? Or more so, to people who love God? The priests begin to question their faith when they realise the suffering the Christians are put through by the Japanese, for their missionary work, for God; they ask, Why does God not help them? God's silence is, even today, one of the reasons I hear most for people losing their faith. I do not consider myself firmly religious but was raised in a fairly lax but Christian household. As I grew up and I lost family members to cancer, things happened to me at school, as life happened, I began to wonder what was the use of praying, believing, when there seemed to be no visible benefit. This is the problem at the heart of Endō's novel. It is Dostoyevskian in its sombre inner turmoil and, for good measure, compared with Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, which, coincidentally, is my favourite Greene novel too.
Behind the depressing silence of the sea, the silence of God . . . the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish God remains with folded arms, silent.

In an interview Jack Kerouac was once asked about his love of Buddhism and he replied, quite plainly, that no one ever died because of Buddhism, and he only wishes he could say the same about Christianity (like Endō, Kerouac was raised in a Catholic household). The Buddhists in Silence go against Kerouac's bold answer. The deaths in Silence are fairly brutal, hanging in 'the pit' and being crucified out to sea. The samurais behead men and women and children alike. I found it fascinating that Endō chose to write the story from a Portuguese man's perspective and so he views Japan as an outsider, as a westerner; it brings a whole new layer to the story, the idea of Japan's place in the world at that time compared to the west itself. Endō himself was one of the first Japanese university students to study in France. Silence is without a doubt his magnum opus, though I'm intrigued to read his other works now.

The answer to the question of God's silence, if it is indeed answered, is not for me to say. Endō's novel deserves to be read. A page-turner one minute and a reflection on religion and mankind the next, it is a wonderful work of art.
Profile Image for آبتین گلکار.
Author 49 books1,105 followers
April 8, 2021
کتاب فوق‌العاده خوش‌خوان با ترجمة درجه‌یک. شاید به نظر برسه موضوع کشمکش مسیحیت و بودیسم در ژاپن خیلی به ما ربطی نداره، ولی اصل این مسئله که آیا اصولاً یک کشور باید برای حفظ فرهنگ و تمدن خودش در رو به روی تأثیر بیگانه ببنده یا نه موضوع جالبیه. اشاره‌هایی هم که می‌شد که اروپاییان تصویر خودشون رو از ژاپن و مذاهب اون دارن و این تصویر لزوماً صحیح نیست، درست همون حرف ادوارد سعید و همفکرانشه که باز آدم رو به فکر فرو می‌بره. به کسانی که مذهب دغدغه‌ی فکریشونه و به کسانی که مسئله‌ی مذهب رو در ذهنشون حل کردن به یک اندازه توصیه می‌کنم کتاب رو بخونن. و باید حرف جملة اولم رو یک بار دیگه تکرار کنم که ترجمة کتاب واقعاً عالی بود و به‌خصوص قسمت‌هایی که باید رنگ و بوی کلیسایی می‌گرفت به نظرم بی‌نقص از آب دراومده بود
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
402 reviews201 followers
February 7, 2017
Πρώτο βιβλίο ιαπωνικής λογοτεχνίας που διαβάζω. Θέμα του η θρησκεία και συγκεκριμένα η διάδοση του χριστιανισμού στην Ιαπωνία τον 17ο αιώνα. Αν και άθρησκος, άθεος, με εντυπωσίασε. Θίγει πολύ ενδιαφέροντα θέματα και θέτει ορισμένα διλήμματα.

Έως που μπορεί να φτάσει ένας άνθρωπος που θεωρεί τις ιδέες του σωστές, όταν προκαλούν το βασανισμό και τον θάνατο, σε μια κοινωνία που δεν μπορεί να τις αποδεχτεί. Συνάδει η ηθική με την θρησκεία; κτλ. Αξίζει να διαβαστεί από όλους, για να βγάλει ο καθένας τα συμπεράσματα, από την προσωπική του οπτική γωνία.

Ανυπομονώ να δω και την ταινία, που σκηνοθέτησε ο Scorcese.
Profile Image for Raul.
276 reviews200 followers
December 12, 2021
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 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. And to add to all this, the suspicion that the Christian faith was making the citizenry less loyal to the emperor and state, so Japan cut itself off from the outside world in 1641 and only dealt with foreigners from an artificial island off Nagasaki - an isolation that would last two centuries.

Back to the book, the Portuguese missionaries who had at first enjoyed a great relationship with the government and the lords find themselves in a fix; 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 losses 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.
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,254 reviews49 followers
July 21, 2017
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.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,200 reviews65 followers
September 14, 2011
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)
May 15, 2022
I had been interested in reading this book for a substantial amount of time, and during that time I had read some rather positive reviews and I heard a good deal about this book. I'm also aware that there is also a film based on this, but at this particular time, I have no intention in watching it.

This book was enough for me. It was delicately, but also powerfully told in a prose most beautiful, and despite parts of it proving difficult to read, I found the entire experience with this book most rewarding.

During these pages we are told the story of a jesuit priest called Sebastian Rodrigues who has travelled to Japan in order to discover the truth about his mentor, who has been reported to have defected from his Catholic faith. During the first part of the book we experience the journey that Sebastian Rodrigues had to to take, and then once he physically arrives in Japan, the narration masterfully shifts to third person. I thought this worked well, and certainly added to the tone of the story.

The tone was desperately grim, and to learn of all the abysmal acts of torture and the sacrificing of one's life in order to keep faith in God is heavy going, even for me. I learned before reading this book that the title of this book is in fact a question, and that question is 'Why did God remain silent?' Why did God remain silent during the endurance of so much pain and torture?

This was a complex and fascinating novel, complete with wonderful writing. I would love to read more from Endō.
Profile Image for Mohammad Hrabal.
256 reviews175 followers
November 23, 2022
فیلم اقتباسی سکوت از آقای اسکورسیزی را قبلاً دیده بودم و کتاب آن را هم الان خواندم ********************************************************************
پروانه‌ای در تار عنکبوتی گرفتار شد. عنکبوت تاری به دورش تنید. چندی گذشت، پروانه همچنان در تار گرفتار بود. همه از استقامت پروانه در تعجب بودند. تندبادی شد و تار را تکانی داد. پروانه ذره‌ ذره شد و ریخت. خیلی وقت بود که از درون پوک شده بود. مقدمه مترجم- صفحه ۹ کتاب
گناه همیشه آن چیزی نیست که همه فکر می‌کنند، همیشه که دزدی کردن و دروغ گفتن نیست. گناه یک انسان این است که بی‌رحمانه زندگی دیگران را نادیده بگیرد و از زخم‌هایی که پشت سرش به‌جا گذاشته غافل باشد. صفحه‌ی ۱۰۸ کتاب
ارزشمندترین حالات سیمای یک مرد لبخند پذیرش تمامی رنج‌ها و اهانت هاست. صفحه‌ی ۱۸۵ کتاب
علت این‌که از دین برگشتم… آماده‌ی شنیدنش هستی؟ گوش کن! این‌جا حبس بودم و صدای جماعتی را می‌شنیدم که خدا برایشان هیچ کاری نکرده بود. خدا کوچک‌ترین کاری برایشان نکرد. با تمام وجودم دعا کردم اما او هیچ کاری نکرد. صفحه‌ی ۱۹۷ کتاب
قضاوت وظیفه بشر نیست. خدا بهتر از هرکس دیگری از ضعف ما خبر دارد. صفحه‌ی ۲۲۰ کتاب
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
750 reviews202 followers
October 17, 2016

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.
Profile Image for StefanP.
162 reviews72 followers
February 2, 2020

Ne uzdajte se u knezove, u čovjeka od kog nema spasenja! Izađe li duh iz njega, u zemlju svoju on se vraća i propadaju sve misli njegove.

Šta se desi poslije perioda mira? Haos? Tako nešto se desilo i u Japanu kada je Regent Hidejoši zamjenivši svog prethodnika otpočeo progon hrišćanstva iz svoje zemlje. Njegov nasljednik Šogun Tokugava nastavio je takođe isti posao. Svi misionari morali su da napuste zemlju. Ovo je roman koji se istorijski bavi događajima u Japanu koji su se desili u sedamnaestom stoljeću. Nevjerovatno je kakve sve suptilne načine mučenja je čovjek u mogućnosti da smisli i sa kakvom voljom se ona sprovode. Endo u ovom romanu pravi paralelu i sagledava s jedne strane, osakaćenost vjere kod običnog naroda i s druge strane, mogućnosti očuvanja te vjere kod hrišćanskih sveštenika i misionara usljed stravičnog progona. Endo takođe zalazi u psihologiju onih najtvrdokornijih hrišćana koji padaju pred dželatom, i pita se da li je vrijedno svo to mučeništvo. Postavlja određene reference i kroz njih kroji sudbinu svojih junaka. Zanimljivo je to da "izdajnici" i "kukavice" ostaju pod tom olujom oštrih napada kao posljednji, živi. Tako Endo kroz njih izvodi zaključak da izdaja spolja ne predstavlja ništa važno, ako u srcu nije izdato. Čime on navodi sljedeće: "Sada sam posljednji sveštenik u ovoj zemlji. Ali naš Gospod nije čamio u tišini. Čak i da jeste, moj život do današnjeg dana govorio bi o njemu."
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
September 3, 2013
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!
Profile Image for Tahani Shihab.
592 reviews804 followers
April 27, 2021

هذه الرواية عن المبشرين البرتغاليين اليسوعيين في اليابان في القرن السابع عشر. تم تقديمها بشكل رائع، وتطرح أسئلة صعبة. فالصمت هنا صمت صراخ، مُترع بالتساؤلات .أين الله؟ عندما يُكابد خلقه صنوف العذاب، فقط لأنهم آمنوا به.

رواية رائعة ومؤلمة عن الصراع بين المسيحية والبوذية في اليابان. عن الإيمان والتعصب للدين، وفرض الارتداد على الآخرين بقسوة ووحشية.


“إن الله يهب الإنسان مصيرًا يفوق ما يمكن للمعرفة البشرية أن تتصوره أو تبتدعه”.

“ما الإنسان إلا مخلوق غريب، يراوده دومًا شعور، في قرار مكين من فؤاده، بأنه أيا كان الخطر الذي سيواجهه، فإنه سيفلح في تجاوزه”.

“إن الأمر العسير هو الموت من أجل البائسين ومن فسدت حياتهم.. كان ذلك هو الإدراك الذي تكشفت لي حجبه، فلاحت تفاصيله بدقة، في ذلك الحين”.

“أيا كانت قوة إيمان المرء، فإن الخوف إذ يعتري البدن، يمكن أن يقهر المرء تمامًا”.

“أن الخطيئة ليست ما يظن عادة أنها عليه، ليست السرقة والكذب. إنما الخطيئة أن يدهس الرجل كالدابةِ على حياة رجلٍ آخر، مستشعرًا السكينة إزاء الجراح، التي خلفها وراءه”.

“لستُ قدّيسًا، إنني أرهب الموت”.

“إلهي، لِمَ أنت صامت؟ لِمَ أنت صامت دائمًا؟”.

“ليس بمقدور اليابانيين أن يفكروا في إله مفارق للإنسان تمامًا، فهم لا يستطيعون التفكير في وجود، يتجاوز ما هو إنساني”.

Profile Image for Fiona.
818 reviews429 followers
May 19, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Friar Stebin John Capuchin.
82 reviews55 followers
August 1, 2020
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.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews271 followers
November 30, 2016

Papa Francisco com Martin Scorsese no Vaticano (2016/11/30)


Trailer oficial do filme de Martin Scorsese - "Silêncio"

Massacre de Cristãos em Nagasáqui - 5 de Fevereiro de 1597 – Japão - Pintura Japonesa Séc. XVI – XVII

Shusaku Endo (1923 – 1996) era um católico japonês, baptizado em 1934, que publicou em 1996 o romance ”Silêncio”.
“A notícia chegou à Igreja de Roma. Enviado ao Japão pela Companhia de Jesus em Portugal, Cristóvão Ferreira, submetido à tortura da fossa em Nagasáqui, apostatara. Missionário experiente, credor da maior estima, Cristóvão Ferreira já vivia no Japão há trinta e três anos… Era inconcebível que um homem de tamanha envergadura traísse a fé, por terríveis que fossem as circunstâncias em que se tivesse encontrado…” (Pág. 27)
”A partir de 1587, o regente Hideyoshi,…, iniciava a perseguição ao cristianismo. Tudo começara quando vinte e seis padres e fiéis foram punidos na colina de Nishizaka, em Nagasáqui. Desde então, os cristãos de todo o país foram sendo expulsos de suas casas, torturados e barbaramente assassinados.” (Pág. 27 – 28)
Em Portugal três jovens padres – Francisco Garpe, João de Santa Marta e Sebastião Rodrigues (antigos alunos de Cristóvão Ferreira) – começam a preparar uma longa e fatigante viagem para investigar e compreender ”… o facto de Ferreira ter sido forçado à apostasia em tão longínquo país, na periferia do mundo, representava não apenas o fracasso de um homem, mas a derrota humilhante da própria fé e de todo o Ocidente.”
”Para estes três homens… era de todo impossível acreditar que o seu idolatrado mestre Ferreira, posto perante a eventualidade de um glorioso martírio, se tivesse deixado arrastar como um rafeiro diante do infiel. Esta convicção, de resto, era o eco unânime de todo o clero português.” (Pág. 32)
Durante a viagem, João de Santa Marta, contraiu a malária, pelo que apenas chegam ao Japão, Francisco Garpe e Sebastião Rodrigues, desembarcando, com a ajuda do japonês Kichijiro, ”… em Tomogi, aldeia de pescadores, não muito longe de Nagasáqui.” Com ”… cerca de 200 fogos e quase toda a população é baptizada.” (Pág. 58)
É nesta pequena aldeia, profundamente reprimida, que os dois jovens padres são acolhidos, vivendo escondidos, numa reclusão e numa clandestinidade, com repercussões dolorosas física e emocionalmente.
Mais tarde, Francisco Garpe e Sebastião Rodrigues, acabam por ter que se separar…
A narrativa de “”Silêncio” revela um escrita admirável, desenvolvida por uma minuciosa investigação e reconstituição histórica, sobre inúmeras temáticas: a expansão do cristianismo no Japão no século XVI e XVII, num período que chegaram aos duzentos mil; a perseguição violenta e implacável das autoridades japonesas ao cristianismo e aos cristãos no século XVI e XVII, com o início de uma repressão atroz promovida por Toyotomi Hideyoshi iniciada com crucificação de vinte e seis cristãos, entre japoneses , quatro espanhóis, um mexicano e um indiano; sobre os dilemas e as contradições da sociedade japonesa; divergências entre os valores do passado e do presente, entre o Ocidente e o Oriente; uma profunda análise sobre o Japão contemporâneo, dominado por permanentes tensões sociais, religiosas e culturais, num conflito com raízes ancestrais, numa sociedade resistente à mudança; mas, essencialmente, sobre as fraquezas humanas, sobre a incompatibilidade moral associada à religião; e que se espelham em Sebastião Rodrigues, que enfrenta inúmeras situações que o fazem questionar-se sobre a fé, a cobardia e a devoção, sobre a inacção de Deus perante as bárbaras atrocidades a que são submetidos os camponeses e os pescadores, apenas por professarem a religião católica, sujeitando-se à tortura e ao martírio, para se manterem fiéis ao cristianismo e à Igreja Católica. Nesta “viagem” de Sebastião Rodrigues acabam por surgir paralelismos associados a inúmeros relatos da fé cristã, entre Judas e Kichijiro, e muitos outros,…
”Silêncio” é um excelente romance, de leitura obrigatória…

Liam Neeson (Cristóvão Ferreira) - Fotograma do filme "Silence" de Martin Scorsese

O filme ”Silence” foi realizado pelo norte-americano Martin Scorsese, revelando que “descobriu” o romance ”Silêncio” no final de 1989, num processo de produção conturbado, com rodagem na Taiwan, com os actores Liam Neeson (Cristóvão Ferreira), Andrew Garfield (Sebastião Rodrigues) e Adam Driver (Francisco Garpe), com estreia prevista para Dezembro de 2016 nos EUA e Janeiro de 2017 em Portugal.

"Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument" - Nishizaka Hill - Nagasáqui - Japão

Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,452 reviews12.8k followers
January 5, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,326 followers
September 30, 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 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,

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.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,027 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.