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#21 Ann D.

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 09:59 PM

Have we lost interest in this discussion? I'm sure most of us have finished the book by now--is there anything else anyone would like to add?

#22 gigi

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 04:05 PM

Ok, so about 5 chapters from the end I got distracted by about 5 other books I'm also currently reading. I think this is partly because at times it felt so incredibly repetitive, which comes from his incarceration I think, that I lost interest. However, having finished it I realise that I was being daft and there is a mountain of stuff I must have missed in my zoning-outs. I've renewed it, and am hoping to give it another go (I still have creases on pages I thought were relevant passages). I think it deserves it. Also, I'll try to actually scribble down what I'm thinking as I go through the sometimes short chapters, which should be easier now that I know where it leads to.

I will say this for now, though, that what felt like the drudgery (and yet melodrama) of some passages was a wonderful lead up to (and recreation of conditions, I think) an exalting (though very quiet) ending. Also - did anyone else see the division that Endo drew between Christianity and the church at the end? Is his bone so much with Christianity not taking root in Japan or Catholicism? Does Rodrigues find Christianity by removing himself from the church? Or is this what the indue says to him all along - that it can never be a true version of Christianity, it gets changed into something else? (but then isn't this also true of Christianity across the world, that adapted and incorporated other religions as it spread to different cultures - still does, the black Jesus' in Latin America that incorporate centuries old... erm... 'black magic' religions into Christianity - and if so, where does that leave Christianity?)

Oh there are so many questions... Right. Back to page one. Oh and I'd also like to say that I'm really very excited by the summary of The Samurai in the back of my copy of Silence and will get to it soon I hope!

Edited by gigi, 13 June 2005 - 04:11 PM.


#23 Mark

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 10:56 AM

Great thoughts, gigi.

QUOTE(gigi @ Jun 13 2005, 04:05 PM)
it felt so incredibly repetitive, which comes from his incarceration I think, that I lost interest.  However, having finished it I realise that I was being daft and there is a mountain of stuff I must have missed in my zoning-outs. 

Do you mean the point until his incarceration felt repetitive, or from that point on? I thought the chapters leading up to his arrest felt like drudgery ... only the intrigue of Kichijiro really held my interest. The meditations on the "face of Christ" were beautiful, but yeah, after a while they felt repetitive, too. (going on memory, now)

QUOTE
I will say this for now, though, that what felt like the drudgery (and yet melodrama) of some passages was a wonderful lead up to (and recreation of conditions, I think) an exalting (though very quiet) ending. 

Exactly my feelings. I can't remember exactly what struck me so strongly, but there's a passage in the last chapter involving Kichijiro and his seemingly unlikely faith, and Rodrigues' quiet affirmation of his faith in Christ, that made up for the book's poetic weaknesses, IMO.

QUOTE
Also - did anyone else see the division that Endo drew between Christianity and the church at the end?  Is his bone so much with Christianity not taking root in Japan or Catholicism?  Does Rodrigues find Christianity by removing himself from the church? Or is this what the indue says to him all along - that it can never be a true version of Christianity, it gets changed into something else?

Hmm, well, that's the big question the book asks, isn't it? I'd suspect, from what I've read of Endo's life, that he had big problems with the Church and that Rodrigues' affirmation of faith at the end is akin to Endo's own affirmation. Inoue's cynical claim is that Christianity is irrelevant because it will always be culturally watered down - but Rodrigues, unlike his predecessor (can't recall the other priest's name) sees Chinese believers like Kichijiro practicing faith apart from the church, and culturally changed, but still rooted in a firm belief in Christ.

#24 Ann D.

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 04:39 PM

Gigi, I think you'll really enjoy The Samurai. I prefer it over Silence, personally. I won't recommend it for the book club--I think two Endo books might be overdoing it--but if you do read it I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Re: the repetition; according to The Samurai's introduction it's a standard Japanese style of literature. It does seem to be boring to our Western sensibilities, but as you say, it begins to build and lead up to a wonderful ending. It does so very quietly, and still ends up quiet, but it's an intense quiet. I can really feel the tension and ackwardness between Rodrigues and his predecessor. I'm not sure if that really makes sense.

I still can't really put into words how I feel about Kichijiro. I relate to him so well that it makes me feel a little vulnerable. I waver so often in my faith, but I keep going back to it. I can't help it. It seems as though that's what happens with Kichijiro--he is too weak to be a martyr, and too weak to break away altogether. Again, not sure that makes sense.

This book is too esoteric for such a practical person as I am. smile.gif

#25 gigi

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 06:24 PM

Ann - two things I just wanted to get out of the way:

i. you make it sound as if being a practical person is a bad thing and that it's incompatible with esotericism. Neither of which is true, which your reply demonstrates.
ii. The weakness of faith conundrum makes perfect sense and I think it is more common than you seem to allow, the norm in fact. What Endo seems to be saying, though, is that it is precisely the weakness that equals strength because it is in admitting this that you learn to depend on Christ. Actually, he goes further I think. By proxy he implies that faith that doesn't stumble isn't a true understanding of faith at all.

I appreciate your honesty about how you felt about Kichijiro, it is perhaps something I haven't admitted about myself and the lead character of another book club protagonist: Hazel Motes.

It would be interesting to, perhaps at a later date, approach a second novel by a chosen author. May be able to develop more in depth discussions on themes, styles, etc.

Edited by gigi, 28 June 2005 - 06:27 PM.


#26 Cunningham

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 02:14 PM

I finished the book on Wednesday and have been turning it over since then. Here are my thoughts.

QUOTE
I will say this for now, though, that what felt like the drudgery (and yet melodrama) of some passages was a wonderful lead up to (and recreation of conditions, I think) an exalting (though very quiet) ending.
I had the exact same impression. It took me a while to read this book, simply because of its slow movement, repetition, and simple language, but when you hit the climax where Rodrigues trampels the fumie at the end of chapter 8 it's like a thunderclap. It's been a long time since I've been moved by a piece of literature like that scene moved me. Amazing craftsmanship.

Most of what I've read about this book focuses on the discussion of whether or not Christianity is appropriate to Japan, but I found this to be a distant secondary concern to Rodrigues' own struggles with his faith and his dilemma of how to respond to the challenge of whether or not to apostatize. There's really no compelling evidence in the book the Ferrera is right in claiming that Japanese Christianity is somehow "perverted" and the evidence of the martyrs' faith is overwhelming in their suffering.