BOOKS: Silence by Shusaku Endo

I was wondering if anyone has read the novel called Silence by Shasaku Endo, about the early Catholic missionaries in Japan. A very good book, that is thought provoking, and disturbing. I have read it several times.


I have not read it. Can you tell us somethings about it?

I have not read it. I’veheard it is good, so I want to.

Jon – you might be interested in this:

I was just planning to borrow the book from the local library and read it next week…I will give my opinions after I read it :smiley:

“Silence” is a historic novel, set in sixteenth century Japan, where Portuguese missionaries set out to help the fledgling Christian faith in Japan. The Japanese officials want to drive Christianity out of Japan, and try to do so by torturing priests into apostasy, denying their faith. Two Portuguese priests make a dangerous journey to Japan, both to locate and comfort Japanese converts, and to discover the truth about a supposed apostate priest, Ferreira. The book is very disturbing at times, and gets you to think “what would I do if I was in that situation”. The “Silence” of God during the terrible persecution is one of the puzzling aspects. The book is ultimately uplifting, and got me to appreciate my faith, and the fact that we live in a country where we are free to worship. I have read the book twice, and will likely read it again. It is a book you will never forget.

Sounds like a book I want to read.

it’s a book that profoundly moved me when i read it about a dozen years ago or more, and that was before i gave two figs about religion.

shusako endo also wrote “a life of jesus”
in order to “explain” the idea of jesus to his fellow japanese. my mother gave the book to me as a present many years ago when i was going away to college. i’m rereading it now. he seems to emphasize christ’s humanity over his godhood a bit too much for me, but other than that its full of interesting insights.

i’ve tried reading some of endo’s other books but haven’t been able to get through them as they’ve been too lightweight, in my opinion.

The Scandal was lightweight? That’s been the only one I’ve had easy access too, and it was some really heavy mindscrew with a lead character obviously based on Endo himself. Has anyone read that?

was it an odd kind of comedy? that’s all i can remember about the book i was referring to.

this was required reading at Catholic (Jesuit) college DH, DD and SIL attended, so I read it a while back, and did like it, but never felt moved to read it again (my criteria for a really great book) but if it range alarms on theological or historical grounds, I don’t remember, and I usually get an allergic reaction to books that play fast and loose with either

I also heard about the book from my Professor at St Louis University, a Jesuit school.
I can’t say that the theology or history is flawless. It is certainly fictionalized. However, what really struck me was the faith of the underground church in Japan, and the risks that they had to take to practice their faith, and the torture and death that they had to endure. I am fairly sure that is based on reality. Also, the inner thought processes of the priests to go to Japan to help the church their, trying to stay strong in the face of great personal challenge, was mesmerizing. I have gained a new appreciation to the religious freedom that we take for granted.

Really? I just read this book and didn’t get that impression… I mean, I don’t think that Fr. Rodrigues ends his life (as far as the reader can tell) in a particularly honorable way. It’s one thing to apostasize… we Christians do it every day to varying degrees. But to continue on the way he did, ratting out Christians to the authorities, etc, it seems he really did lose faith. He says that he still loves Christ, but in a different way than before. What way this was, I couldn’t tell. How is he any different than Ferrera? Very sad novel!

I definitely related to Kichijiro… as pathetic as he may have seemed, if we view ourselves from the outside I think that we behave like this. At least I do, all the time. He has a good heart, but his will is weak, so he constantly betrays Our Lord. But unlike Judas (and Frs. Ferrera and Rodrigues?) he never despairs of his sin, he is always lovingly returning to Christ. In many ways he struck me as a model for us to look to, especially when we have fallen.

I read this book a while ago. (By the way, I highly reccomend it, even though it is fiction;) . Set ~1500s-1600s when Catholicism was outlawed in Japan, the Vatican opens an invesigation into a priest who has gone missing.) Does anyone have any comments on it? Or on the time period described in it?

If anyone’s interested in the film being made into a movie there is a thread about that here:

We read Silence for my Catholic book club a few months back.

I thought it was beautifully crafted albeit quite dark. I appreciated it even more after having some discussion about it.

The “what would I do in this situation” question keeps you thinking for the whole book, and the characters are very compelling.

I’d recommend it, but it’s definitely not a light read.

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