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Monthly Book Reads > Silence - July 2018

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Darren (dazburns) | 757 comments Mod
this month's Family & Self selection - who's in...?

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I'll be reading it--probably a little closer to the end of the month though

Jackie | 88 comments The book should be making its way towards me.

message 4: by Darren (last edited Jul 04, 2018 02:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darren (dazburns) | 757 comments Mod
my copy arrived yesterday! :oD
lovely cover as well on King Penguin edition:
Silence by Shūsaku Endō

message 5: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments I'm in for both but later in the month same as everyone else :-)

Phil (lanark) | 467 comments My 2nd hand copy arrived yesterday. Lord Jim first though (while also trying to finish Sense & Sensibility)

message 7: by Darren (last edited Jul 09, 2018 02:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darren (dazburns) | 757 comments Mod
I have another book that I am intending to finish tonight
(a G1000-er, don't worry! What A Carve Up)

so I can start Silence tomorrow...

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Fay Roberts | 363 comments Darren wrote: "I have another book that I am intending to finish tonight
(a G1000-er, don't worry! What A Carve Up)

so I can start Silence tomorrow..."

I did the same :-) I finished The Talented Mr. Ripley (which was amazing) and started last night.

The translators note and prologue were fascinating and I couldn't help but see the links between this and The Power and the Glory.

I've just finished the first chapter and I was actually surprised that it was written in letter format (I tend to research after I've read the book for context and other peoples opinions. I like to go in dry so I can form my own thoughts and ideas and just enjoy the story without other ideas swimming around. I tend to read introductions and notes on the texts at the end as well and skip notes. Does anyone else just read it the first time to enjoy and then skip back over passages etc? Who likes to be fully informed of everything before they start?) So far the letter style seems to be working well. The tone so far reminds me of the tone of the first person narrative in the "classics". What does anyone else think to this style of writing?

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Dennis Fischman (dfischman) | 162 comments I read the first few chapters and then gave up. The book is well written, but as a Jew, I have no interest in the mission or the priests’ moral dilemmas.

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Fay Roberts | 363 comments I finished the day after I started. I’m not sure of the proper literary term but I found it rather “blah”....
I’ve only just read The Power and the Glory and there are lot of similarities. The problem is; I liked TPATG but at the end describing it to my friend I said that at times the protagonist was “too English” and “maybe not foreign enough”. In Silence I found the protagonist “ too foreign” so found it hard to care what happened to him. Firstly this proves that there is just no pleasing some people, secondly it backs up the theme of the book.
Has anyone else gone ahead and finished? What did you think?

message 11: by Lia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lia This is a reread for me, I finished rereading!

I thought it's interesting that it was written by a Japanese catholic. Even though this is ostensibly about the (un?)heroic adventure of some young Portuguese, I feel like I have to read it from the host country's lens.

I don't know if I'm reading too much into this -- but I suspect there are a lot of symbolisms in plain sight. The book cover for example

Silence by Shūsaku Endō

Is a drawing of Jesus nailed to the Japanese Kanji for "dog," a "radical" in the Japanese kanji for "silence." So right from the start it makes me wonder what "silence" means for this writer, whose silence? How is silence portrayed?

Other parts of the Japanese word "silence" (Chimmoku) is interesting too -- Chim alone means "sinking," "Moku" is "black" on the left, "dog" on the right, "fire" on the bottom. So we get a symbolic image of a sinking black dog on fire. I keep linking the water torture scene to "sinking", and the "whipped dog" Kichijiro as the one who ends up bearing the weight of this foreigner.

Rodrigues kept feeling really sorry for himself that God stayed silent. He was blind to so many things around him, he can only see his own preconceptions. Some poor peasants were being tortured in order to persuade him, and he complained about their "snoring" noise when they were actually groaning in pain. He hears what he wanted to hear, based on his romantic projection of what it means to be a brave Jesus 2.0.

You know how in traditional Japanese haiku, there's no plot, they tend to convey a very simple sentiment without saying anything about feelings or emotions, but by depicting nature, the seasons, the environment? I wonder if we should read Silence that way -- that is, I wonder if there are signs everywhere in the depiction of Rodrigues' environment, but he's simply not "listening" to God's "still small voice."

Darren (dazburns) | 757 comments Mod
I started this last night
not many laughs in it so far...

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Just starting last night--only made it through the intro and the prologue so far.

message 14: by Lia (last edited Jul 20, 2018 06:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lia I’ve been reading some commentaries on Heidegger, such as this here

At the point where we are, “only a god can save us now,” Heidegger cries with Cicero. To the contrary, he hopes to fan the flames of our affliction, by crying out, in the desert of the absence of distress, that the human condition lies prey to a dereliction that technical responses, the only ones that have been accepted in this day and age, can never remedy. One feels it in this heartfelt cry:

Question Be-ing! And in its silence, as the inception of the word, the god answers. You may scour all that is, but nowhere does the trace of the god appear.

I know they (Heidegger, Shusaku) are not talking about the same thing, but at the same time it seems apt. The Christian peasants are already so in-tune with everyday sufferings: poverty, taxation, suppression of religion, daily toils, interrogation and torture — they “need” and hear God everywhere.

Rodrigues the modern man, used to comforts, takes technological solutions for granted, pities (looks down on) the backward “swamp” that is Japan, condemns Japanese Christians thoughts as childish and naive, like they’ve been scammed — he must “endure” the silence of God until he starts questioning his own being, until his own self-certainty and way of existence breaks down.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments About a third of the way in:

I haven't warmed up to this much yet; I too thought of The Power and the Glory Fay--one of my favorite novels. The difference is the attitude of the two priests. It'll be interesting to see how the two compare now that Rodrigues has been captured.

I'm not a terribly close reader, but I thought the mention of faces was particularly pointed--there is the face of Jesus that Rodrigues continually conjures up before his mind's eye, and the faces of the peasants Ichizo and Mokichi, and finally his own face reflected in a pool of water just before he meets up with Kichijirō again. What this signifies, I'm not sure, unless it's a way of heightening the difference between the human and the divine.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Finished.

I think the idea here was that God is silent when you are only looking for one answer, but might have things to say that you don't want to hear.

I never really did warm to the book, although intellectually it was interesting, and I did like the historical perspective. But to me, the book was meant to be much more than just a story, and I felt only lukewarm about it.

Jackie | 88 comments Just started, I hope Silence won't be too much hard work...

Darren (dazburns) | 757 comments Mod
Finished this over the weekend.
Simple tale of religious persecution (historical details of which I was unaware, so always nice to learn new stuff!) and also a man doubting his faith, nothing particularly groundbreaking, but very nicely written - story proceeds quickly and smoothly without getting too heavy/depressing and mixing in a few thought-provoking elements. I took this on a more general level than just religious faith - more to do with how we organise/justify to ourselves the thoughts within our heads, plus how we react to being told what to do (a la The Crucible) - pretty basic, big stuff!

Jackie | 88 comments Just finished this. I echo Darren's view. Basically, I found this more interesting from a historical perspective, I learned a lot and was interested in some points I had not thought of. Thank goodness it was simply written, and not too much of a downer despite the truly horrific events. Unfortunately I could not sympathise with the central character until towards the end. I think the book dragged quite a bit in the middle.

message 20: by Bron (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bron (bron23) | 30 comments I have finally had the chance to finish reading this book. I really liked it. I found the historic info re Christian persecution in Japan interesting. As a Christian I find the ethical decision about whether to trample or not very interesting to explore and contemplate. In my copy it had study notes at the end and raises the question about whether Jesus would trample in the same situation, which for me is interesting to contemplate. I would have really liked it if there was more time spent in the book about what happened for Rodrigues in those 30 years post apostatising. How did he live with himself, especially given the tasks that he was then made to do. He apostatises to stop others being tortured but then has to identify Christian artefacts etc that may lead to others suffering as being identified as having been found in their possession. How does he reconcile himself with this?

Glad I have had the chance to read this.

message 21: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil (lanark) | 467 comments Just starting this book. Bit confused by the chronology from the off. We're told in the prologue that Ferraira had been a missionary in Japan for 33 years, Rodriguez was his pupil, but is only 28 years old at the start of the book. Yet. we're not told of any point where Ferraira returned to Portugal.

message 22: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil (lanark) | 467 comments Okay - my review.

A very interesting period of history - so alien to this western brain. The book tells of a priest, Rodriguez, from Portugal who heads to Japan in the 1640s as a missionary to follow up reports that his teacher has renounced his faith in that country. Japan has switched in quick time from welcoming Christianity and the trade it brought with it, to violently suppressing it.

Rodriguez arrives in the middle of a clampdown and has to go underground with his fellow priest until they're forced to split up.

Had I not known that this was written by a devout Japanese Catholic, I'd have read this book as an atheist text - God is nowhere (the Silence of the title) and the end is fairly nihilistic when (view spoiler)

The book is written in a nice simple style and was easy and a relatively quick read. So I enjoyed it, but I feel that had I been a believer I might have taken away a different message from the words.

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