One of the finest novels, from “a masterly historical writer” (David Mitchell)
In 1613, four low-ranking Japanese samurai, accompanied by a Spanish priest, set sail for Mexico to bargain for trading rights with the West in exchange for a Catholic crusade through Japan. Their arduous journey lasts four years, as they travel onward to Mexico then Rome, where they are persuaded that the success of their mission depends on their conversion to Christianity. In fact, the enterprise seems to have been futile from the start: the mission returns to Japan to find that the political tides have shifted. The authorities are now pursuing an isolationist policy and a ruthless stamping out of Western influences. In the face of disillusionment and death, the samurai can only find solace in a savior they’re not sure they believe in.
|Publisher:||New Directions Publishing Corporation|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Shusaku Endo (1923–1996) is widely regarded as one of the most important Japanese authors of the late twentieth century. He won many major literary awards and was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times. His novel Silence was recently made into a major film directed by Martin Scorsese.
Van C. Gessel has published six translations of works by Endo.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For me personally the greatest novel ever written, it takes three practically incompatible areas, organized western religion, ancient japanese culture, and a sincere believer, and forges them together as best as any author can possibly do. A true follower of Jesus Christ, the conclusion of the follower is similar. The decision of Father Pedro's servant reminds me of "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold." And Camus.
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. 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.
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'.