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Silence [Paperback]

Shusaku. Endo
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1980
"Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama." Irving Howe. -- The New York Times Review Of Books

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Silence + Samurai, The (Peter Owen Modern Classic) + A Life of Jesus
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Product details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Taplinger Publishing,N.Y. (31 Dec 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800871863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800871864
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.2 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 868,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Endo's stark, strange theological novel looks back to 17th-century Japan to raise an enduring question: why does God remain with folded arms, silent in the face of human suffering? Telling the story of Fr Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit who follows his missionary vocation to Japan at a time of violent religious persecution, Silence is a compelling historical fiction, a potent distillation of the paradoxes and ambiguities of faith and, from a Christian author, a daring challenge to religious orthodoxy. --The Guardian 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

A remarkable work . . . sombre, delicate and startlingly empathetic. --John Updike, New Yorker

One of the finest historical novels written by anyone, anywhere . . . Flawless. --David Mitchell --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

SHUSAKU ENDO is widely regarded as one of the greatest Japanese authors of the late twentieth century. Born in 1923, he won many major literary awards and was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times. His novels, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages, include The Sea and Poison, Wonderful Fool, Deep River and Silence. He died in 1996. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read so far. 12 April 2004
Silence is probably the best book I have ever read. I simply cannot think of anything else I have encountered that tops it. The story tells of Portuguese priest attempting to preach Christianity in Japan during a terrifying persecution.
Silence asks the question how can God remain silent while his servants are being tortured and killed? This theme runs through the book and by the penultimate chapter you think know how the story will end, an ending which is better than most books can manage. The tale then twists again and what happens at the very end is one of the most profound and disturbing conclusions of any book written on the Christian theme.
In a way the book is similar to Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory" but Endo puts his characters through much more and as a result the central theme has more resonance. As much as I like "The Power and the Glory" it is inferior to Silence. Silence will make you sweat like a great horror novel and will leave its mark like the greatest literature.
This is possible one of the greatest books ever written with a Christian theme.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read 5 Oct 2005
I first read this book in 1993. I was very deeply touched and have read it again from time to time since. The thinking behind the story is profound and the understanding of the Cross and Passion of Christ and the call to us to join in the vulnerability of Christ's own continuing mission to the world is very moving indeed.

As the pages fly by the unflinching, devastating exposure of everyman's own pride and incomplete understanding is sublime in its simplicity and gentleness.

How many ways can I laud this book and urge you to read it?

The early pages are a good read - a good yarn. The middle pages provocative, harrowing, hypnotic. The end pages leave one reeling before a mystery that rattles one's foundations.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart of darkness - heart of the matter. 7 Mar 2007
By bohobozo VINE VOICE
SILENCE; Shusaku Endo. ISBN-10; 0720612861

This is a harrowing and testing story of a Portugese priest -missionary pushing his faith to the limits in 17th century Japan.

Japan at the time was purging itself of alien influences and determined to drive christianity out of it's islands.

Christians were subject to persecution and those interrogated by the authorities forced to renounce their faith.

The leading character, one Sebastian Rodrigues is out to find the truth behind the reports that his mentor, Ferreira had been catechized and forced to abandon his faith - recant.

From Rodrigues covert entry to the islands through his betrayal to his ultimate enlightenment - his faith - his belief - is severely tested - pushed to the limits.

He constantly asks why God remains silent through all the suffering, persecution and oppression only to realise that God had been and will always be his constant companion.

Endo (in transaltion) is a superb storyteller and writer often compared to Graham Greene - but to me his style and influence has stronger affiliations with two great authours of his previous generation - Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy.

Endo is one of my favoured authours and 'Silence' has to be acknowledged as one of the finest works of fiction of all time.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to shout about 20 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Silence' by Endo is the most profound novel I have ever read.I took my time to come round to reading it because I thought the trials and tribulations of a few Portuguese missionaries in Tokugawa Japan would not be something that greatly interested me. However, the philosophical discussions that take place transcend the historical setting of the novel and challenges our fundamental beliefs and morality. It has been some time since I read this book and I am still haunted by it. It is one of those rare works that can change the way you think about life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Father Sebastian Rodrigues and two other Portuguese missionary priests ignore the advice of their superiors and illicitly enter a hostile Japan.It is the early part of the 17th Century. Christianity is anathema in Japan. Anyone suspected of being a Christian is imprisoned and forced to trample on an image of Christ in order to avoid death. Those who refuse face a series of horrific tortures, one of which is 'the pit'. There they are hung upside down for days on end until they either apostatize, i.e. deny Christ, or die.Will Rodrigues have the courage to cling to his faith when faced by the cruel prosecutor, Inoue,who is the architect of some of the worst tortures? Rodrigues, and the reader, are faced with the question, 'Why does God, if he exists, remain silent when those who worship him are forced to suffer so much?' Is it right to preach a gospel which brings not only the hope of eternal life life to those who convert but unimaginable pain and trouble? This is an exciting and thought-provoking book. Its only flaw is the over-labouring of the parallels between the priest's suffering and that of Christ.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A modern Christian classic.
A novel set in Japan in which the missionary zeal of a Portuguese Jesuit collides with the Japan of the Shoguns. The central Peter[?] figure is a mixture of pride of life and sincere self offering. He is forced to relate to a Judas figure who flits in and out of the shadows. The resolution of this relationship is one of the books most powerful scenes. There is much about cross-cultural understanding and misunderstanding.
The central scene is brutal and stunning. Bent on it the scenes that follow are immensely moving.
A book about mission and vulnerability which explores power and arrogance, the desire for significance and self righteousness and ultimately love, brokenness, vulnerability and costly grace. At another level this is a most profound meditation on the meaning for human beings of the Cross and the Incarnation.
I read this book and wept. Each of the several times I have read it since, I have been deeply moved and challenged. Here is a strange joy.
It is an essential for any Christian in or moving into mission or ministry. I commend it wholeheartedly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How to save others from torture
This is a straightforward narrative which tells the story of the persecution of Roman Catholics (both Japanese and foreign priests) in the time of the establishment of the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. Mcinnes
4.0 out of 5 stars good story
Quite a good book revealing Japan and the 17th century, terrible times for evangelism and Japanese Christians. sometimes awkward reading
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese history
This is a gripping and beautifully written and translated work. It covers a very important period in Japan after the expulsion of Christianity within a narrative of personal... Read more
Published 13 months ago by MSE
3.0 out of 5 stars not much power or glory
I just don't understand the majority of these reviews.

It's easy to see why this drew the approval of, and comparisons with, Graham Greene. Read more
Published 14 months ago by gille liath
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm looking forward to the film
This is a good book and beautifully written but I've read similar stories before so it feels a bit predictable. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Pamela Goodwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent from the outset as a thrilling story and as a meditation on a human conundrum - why is God silent and does a seeming betrayal of faith for faith constitute a weakness or... Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2012 by Pillowtail
5.0 out of 5 stars `There are some men in the world who get upset by the persistent...
Some historical background: While it is possible that Christianity was known to the Japanese before the 16th century, it was the arrival of Francis Xavier in 1549 that led to... Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2012 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Great service
Delivery was fast and the book was in good condition. Unfortunately, the first half part fell off. By the time I finished it, it was in pieces. Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2012 by nomo
5.0 out of 5 stars Not life changing, though quite good
I normally don't read this type of book and I was positively surprised. Prior to "Silence" I read three or four religious fiction books, and all were without flavor, may you say. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2010 by ManInsideTheHelm
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, but poor translation
This is a harrowing story, and incredibly thought-provoking, but I couldn't help but feel that the translation could have been stronger. Read more
Published on 17 July 2010 by Ruudben
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