Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Japanese
Translated from: English
Authors: Endo, Shusaku
Translated by: Neverauskytė-Brundzienė, Rima
Full translated source bibliographical description:

Shusaku Endo. Silence. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1998.

ISBN: 978-9955-700-52-4
Published in: Kaunas
Published on: 2008
Publisher: Obuolys

The book brought us into the seventeenth century Japan, in which Christianity is prohibited, and small Christian communities persecution peaked its apogee. In this country secretly arrives two Portuguese priests, including the main novel protagonist – Sebastian Rodriguez. Their mission is to identify and teach Christians in hiding, and most important thing to find out the truth about one of the missing missionary, their mentor, who according to rumors committed apostasy. Also on this journey Rodriguez will have to answer  the question which haunts him: “Why is God silent?”

This novel presents Japanese government and society that was at the time, as well as their views on Buddhism and Christianity, and the two religions in conflict. The book vividly describes the Christian spiritual and physical suffering and torture. However, nothing came close to the suffering experienced by the main character of the novel. This spiritual suffering experienced by Rodriguez, as well as God’s silence and passivity, leads him to a crisis of faith, which repeatedly makes one think of the apostasy.

Shusaku Endo “Silence” have characters with very strong characteristics and beliefs. In addition to the aforementioned Sebastian Rodriguez who have strong religious philosophy and will, readers eye will be attracted by character named Kichijiro. Kichijiro is weak-minded, Japanese drunkard with a dark past, who escorted the Portuguese missionaries in Japan. He is a coward, but when the opportunity is received he try to show off. All Kichijiro‘s qualities of character tells Rodriguez to doubt in him and causes the idea that Kichijiro will sell priest to Japanese officers. This lack of trust is reinforced by the fact that once Kichijiro renounced the faith. In this novel Rodriguez and Kichijiro have relationship similar to the biblical Jesus and Judas relations, and the priest always remembers the words of Christ to his disciple: “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

Shusaku Endo was born in 1923 Tokyo, Japan. He studied literature in Keio University, and later when he won a national scholarship, for several years he studied in France. Nowadays Endo created novels (“The Sea and the poison”, “Samurai”, “Scandal” and especially “Silence”, that is considered his greatest masterpiece) are translated into other languages and is extremely popular among the readers from all over the world. By winning numerous awards and several times nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize, Shusaku Endo is reasonably considered as the best Japanese writer. Once the author has said that the creation of “Silence” and especially Kichijiro character was inspired by Federico Fellini film “La Strada”.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU