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Posted December 31, 2009
The Samurai by Shusaku Endo -- A Spiritual Journey
This book rather blew me away -- and I don't say that too often. It makes me want to go and find a book about Marco Polo's travels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Endo, whose work I did not know before reading The Samurai, is an honored Japanese writer who recreates from scant historical records the spiritual journey of a entourage in the early 1600's as they travel from Japan to Nueva Espana to Spain to Rome and back to Japan, returning to a nation that has closed its doors to foreigners. The characters are skillfully sketched so that one can relate to each in turn, even when they are very unlike oneself -- and sometimes to several simultaneously. Their stories are painful, haunting, uplifting, and thought-provoking about what it means to live in a vast world, in a small community of family and place, and amidst rival claims for loyalty and faith.
Especially memorable characters include Roku, the samurai; Yozo his servant; Velasco, the ambitious Franciscan missionary; Nishi, the young envoy; Tanaka, the envoy whose honor is sadly tested; and Matsuki, the envoy who defects from the journey. But there are so many others as well: Roku's silent wife Riki, his two sons, Velasco's family and his adversary Valente, other attendants of the envoys, Cardinal Borghese, and many others who have ways of appearing or disappearing, somewhat like the symbolic swans that migrate through Roku's native marshlands and haunt his dreams.
Posted February 5, 2002
This was a wonderful book. I could identify with the different characters on their journey to understand that emaciated man on the cross---who people called 'Lord'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.