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The Samurai Hardcover – 6 May 1982

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Hardcover, 6 May 1982
£160.21 £3.60
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers; 1st Edition edition (6 May 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720605598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720605594
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,811,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A wry and sometimes bitter meditation on the nature of cultural values . . . Sensational events or powerful images are pictured rather than expressed, so that they come to resemble Japanese haiku. It is because of Endo s restraint that The Samurai is in the end so convincing. --Peter Ackroyd, Sunday Times

The kinds of shock experienced by the Samurai can be transposed into Endo s own coming to terms with the world outside Japan. He has been called the Japanese Graham Greene and indeed Greene is a great admirer. But Endo is really like no one else. --Anthony Thwaite, Observer

Genius . . . makes the imagination take wing. --Mail On Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Widely regarded as the most distinguished of contemporary Japanese writers and several times shortlisted for the Nobel Prize, SHUSAKU ENDO (1923 96) won many major literary prizes in his lifetime. His books have been translated into twenty-eight languages and include Silence, The Sea and Poison, Deep River, Scandal and The Samurai. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Strobs on 23 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Shusaku Endo's ability to tell a story is nowhere more apparent in this moving tale of Japan during a particularly difficult period of her history. Christianity has arrived in Japan and is slowly making in-roads into, what is for the westerner, an alien culture. Converts have been made but the various warlords who run Japan are anxious about foreign influences especially that of Christianity. In order to safe guard the interests of Japan two Samurai are sent to visit the pope in Rome in a long perilous journey. I will not ruin the story by tell you what happened but the results for these two Samurai were tragic and it was for many Japanese Christians. You simply must read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For me this is the greatest novel to come out of the twentieth century. It offers the most profound account I have seen of the relation between East and West, deconstructing both the glamourized martial arts myth and the imperialism of the Church of Rome through an encounter with the suffering Christ. If it is less well-known than Endo's Silence, that could be because Western readers prefer the latter's Graham Greene-style, sixth form theology of an all-embracing paradox.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Powerful, Profound; Endo's Other Masterpiece. 13 Jun. 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found "The Samurai" to be not quite as powerful and stark as "Silence," and the themes are similar--but this novel is more complex and nuanced in its characterization and scenario. Once again Endo emphasizes the lowly, humble nature of Christ (who is described repeatedly as "that emaciated man"), and how understanding this nature of God is the key for the spiritual awakenings of both the scheming Velasco and the humble samurai. At times I felt the point was a bit overdrawn and obvious, but by the book's second half most of my objections had disappeared; Endo's sheer skill at narration and portraying elegaic tragedy is unmatched.
This is still an excellent novel. Highly recommended, as both a historical adventure and a rumination on what it means to take up one's Cross and follow Jesus.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Profoundly Powerful 26 April 2001
By Xavier Thelakkatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This very powerful novel known as a classic, evokes strong feelings and emotions in the reader, especially if he is a committed Christian. The background of the novel is the persecution of Christians in Japan in the early seventeenth century. There are lots of historical elements in the novel. The Samurai who undertook a voyage in 1613 seems to have kept a journal of his experiences abroad. Fr Luis Sotelo the model for Valesco is also a historical person. Besides, the author as the first Japanese to study abroad after the war acknowledges that there are also some autobiographical elements in the novel. The Samurai called Rokuemon Hasekura and Fr Velasco a missionary of the Franciscan Order are the main characters. Both are on a mission to the Nueva Espana, Espana and Rome as a Japanese envoy and his Spanish interpreter respectively. They plan to meet the King as well as the Pope. Both are eager to make their mission successful. Blinded by their own ambitions, both of them fail to see the truths before them. Both of them meet with disappointment and defeat. Soon they realize their mistakes, but too late to save their own lives. They gradually come to an understanding of what it really means to follow Christ, and embrace martyrdom.
There are various themes that are dealt with in the novel in a profoundly powerful manner. The snobbishness of the religion preached by the affluent clergy, the relevance of the sufferings and death of Christ to the ordinary people, the fickleness and pride of the Japanese people, the political strategies of the Japanese rulers, the ambitions of the foreign missionaries, the rivalries between missionary orders etc are only some of them.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A gloriously honorable tragedy 17 Jan. 2000
By Scott Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the biggest surprises I have received in the last year was "The Samurai", for good reason. Though it starts slowly, this novel is a gripping tale of determination, sacrifice, honor, deceit, and love, following a group of three Japanese noblemen and a Spanish priest in their trek from Japan to Rome. The priest hopes to be declared Bishop of Japan in order to oversee the missionary effort in that country, and is willing to sacrifice almost anything to conquer the religious intolerance of Japan at the time. The noblemen are trying to regain family lands by succeeding in their mission to establish trade between Japan and Nueva Espana. I could not put this novel down once the quest began, and I nearly wept as I finished it. I highly recommend this novel to one and all.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
meaningful historical fiction 5 Feb. 2008
By Samuel Leiter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Based on historical fact, Shusaku Endo's The Samurai tells the story of a zealous Franciscan priest named Velasco (based on a priest named Luis Sotelo) and a rural samurai named Hasekura Rokuemon whose paths cross when Velasco leads a mission to Spain and then Rome with an entourage of Japanese envoys and their men, ostensibly in order to develop trade between Spain and Japan and to gain proselytizing privileges under the authority of Velasco, who seeks to become Bishop of Japan. During the protracted journey, most of the Japanese--all of them of lower rank than would normally be the case for international envoys--agree to convert to Christianity, although their motives are more selfish than profound. Since the events on which the novel is based took place during a period of increasing oppression and persecution of Christians in Japan, the mission is doomed to failure, and both protagonists end up dying for their faith, although Endô leaves vague the depth of Rokuemon's religious commitment. The descriptions of the mission's travels are well researched and hypnotic, the prose is often lyrical, the religious disquisitions are engrossing (even for nonbelievers, like me), the bitter sectarian rivalry between the Jesuits and Franciscans is vividly portrayed, and the world of early seventeenth-century Japanese politics and its evolving attitude toward Christianity is superbly interpreted. Also noteworthy is the depiction of Velasco's complex character as a man of faith struggling with his own worldly ambitions and sensual desires, and that of the humble samurai who is uprooted from his barren homeland and family to travel all the way to Rome while increasingly pondering the significance of the emaciated, ugly figure hanging from crucifixes he sees everywhere in Europe respected as a symbol of man's salvation. The translator, Van C. Gessel, provides a brief introduction and a very useful postscript in which he discusses the novel's relation to historical fact. This novel can be appreciated as both a terrific historical novel about an important subject not well known in the West and as an exploration of the suffering and elation experienced by men in the search for spiritual meaning in Christian faith. Endo's approach to Christian theology is considered highly individualistic, which will be clear even if you don't know much about the subject. Believers and nonbelievers alike will find this novel compelling.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Samauri - Life's Long Journey of faith 16 Sept. 1999
By p.bland@canterbury.qld.edu.au - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a profoundly comforting book. Set in seventeenth century Japan, the novel tells a story about fidelity and courage. The hero of the book is a Samauri warrior sent on a fool's mission to Mexico and Europe. He is the pawn of larger, cynical forces whom he wisely distrusts. Despite this, however, he finds a faith that keeps him going and a courage that doesn't desert him - even at the point of death.
Christianity has few adherents in modern Japan but there are some four thousand martyrs in the church's troubled history in the islands. In an unsentimantal way, this story celebrates the courage and decency of the indigenous church. It is a story that makes one proud to be a human being, not ashamed of it. Few novels can make that claim.
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