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Foreign studies
Endō, Shūsaku, 1923-1996.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ryūgaku. English
Publication Information:
New York : Linden Press/Simon & Schuster, [1990]

General Note:
Translation of: Ryūgaku.
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Author Notes

Shusaku Endo was born in Tokyo in 1923 and, with his family, converted to Catholicism while he was still a child. Much of his writing centers on the conflict this conversion engendered as he struggled to develop faith in a deity foreign to Japanese culture. His writings also reflect on his experiences during World War II during the bombings and the subsequent shortage of basic human necessities for the Japanese people. He explores the suffering endured and the inevitable shock wave upon human relationships and the human psyche.

Endo graduated from Keio University and then journeyed to France after the war to continue his studies, but was forced to return to Japan because of illness. After a period of convalescence Endo decided on a writing career, publishing his first novel, Shiroihito, in 1955. His novel The Samurai, published in the United States in 1996, is considered one of his finest works. His novel Silence, was made into a major motion picture and premiered in November 2016. Endo's reputation is due in part to his exploration of moral dilemma as it relates to divergent cultures. Endo has won many literary awards. In 1982 he was elected to the Japan Arts Academy. Shusaku Endo died in 1996.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Japanese author Endo's pessimism about the West's ability to understand the East (and vice versa) is the obvious theme that binds these three stories. Although Endo says in his introduction that he is more sanguine these days than he was when he first conceived these works, it is the doubt that comes through. The result is something that reads very much like Graham Greene (one of Endo's champions in the West): slow, moral fiction that turns on a point of ambiguity and the failure to sort that ambiguity out. In "A Summer in Rouen," for example, one of the first Japanese students to study in the West after the war is confused and dismayed by the expectations placed on him as well as the unconscious Western arrogance of his kindly, perhaps neurotic hosts. This story has no real mood, no drama, no real philosophical profundity, and, as always with Endo, no sparkling prose, but in its subtle, understated way it gets under your skin. Just how autobiographical these three stories are is confusing. Endo's attempts to distance himself from them in his introduction invite one to think they are more autobiographical than one would have at first guessed. --Stuart Whitwell

Publisher's Weekly Review

Elegantly divided into three sections, this 1965 novel by the celebrated Japanese author of Scandal calibrates the dislocation of Easterners transplanted to the West. ``A Summer in Rouen,'' set shortly after WW II, follows the recipient of a church-sponsored scholarship that has brought him from Japan to France to study Christian literature; his interest in the West is returned by his well-intentioned hosts' paralyzing inability to view him as more than a blank canvas for their own designs. ``Araki Thomas'' tells of the first Japanese student in Rome, a Christian sent there at the dawn of the 17th century who, realizing that the importation of the foreign religion brings with it certain death, renounces his faith after he returns home, choosing survival for himself and for his people. The themes of these two sections are deepened in ``And You, Too,'' in which an ambitious academic named Tanaka goes to Paris in the 1960s to become an authority on the Marquis de Sade. Despite the presence of a community of Japanese scholars and artists, Tanaka feels as alienated as the hero of ``Rouen,'' ``constantly experiencing the sense of distance between himself and a great foreign spirit, and keenly aware of his own inferiority.'' The effort destroys his health; as in ``Araki Thomas,'' the price for integrating the force of a foreign culture is life. Paradoxically, Endo transcends all cultural barriers; far from foreign, his work has the intimacy and the vastness of the universally true. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved