March 27, 1923|
|Died||September 29, 1996(aged 73)|
|Literary movement||"Third Generation"|
|Spouse(s)||Junko Endo(wife, m. 1955)|
Shūsaku Endō (遠藤 周作 Endō Shūsaku, March 27, 1923 – September 29, 1996) was a 20th-century Japanese author who wrote from the unusual perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. Together with Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Shōtarō Yasuoka, Junzo Shono, Hiroyuki Agawa, Ayako Sono, and Shumon Miura, Endō is categorized as one of the "Third Generation", the third major group of writers who appeared after World War II.
Endō was born in Tōkyo in 1923, but his parents soon moved to Dalian, part of the Kwantung Leased Territory in Manchuria. When his parents divorced in 1933, Endō returned to Japan with his mother to stay in Kobe in the house of an aunt. His mother, who had converted to Catholicism post-divorce, succeeded in having Endō baptized at the age of 11 or 12 in the year 1934. Others say an aunt instigated the initiation.
Studying at Keio University in Tōkyo beginning in 1943, Endō graduated in 1947 or 1948. His studies at Keio were interrupted by the war; he worked in a munitions factory. More than munitions work held his interest; he contributed to several literary journals during this period as well. Years later, he became Chief Editor of Mita Bungaku (from 1968).
His alma mater is not the only university Endō is associated with. He first attended Waseda University for the stated purpose of studying medicine, an interest in French Catholic authors precipitated a visit to the University of Lyon beginning in 1950, and he has lectured at at least two Tokyo universities. In 1956 he was hired as an Instructor at Sophia University, and Seijo University assigned him the role of "Lecturer on the Theory of the Novel" in 1967. He is considered a novelist not a university professor, however.
In 1954, a year after completing his studies in France, he won the Akutagawa Prize for Shiroi Hito (White Men) cementing his reputation as an up-and-coming young Japanese fiction prose author. Endō married Junko Okada, who was also a student of French literature at Keio University, a year later. They are the parents of one son, Ryunosuke, born in 1956.
Throughout his life periodic bouts of disease plagued him, and he spent two years in hospital at one point. In 1952, while studying in France, he came down with pleurisy in Paris. A return visit in 1960 prompted another case of the same disease, and he stayed in hospital (both in France and Japan) for the greater part of 3 years. It is possible that at some point during his life he may have contracted tuberculosis, underwent thoracoplasty, and had a lung removed.
While Endō wrote in several genres, his oeuvre is strongly tied to Christianity if not Catholicism. Endō has been called "a novelist whose work has been dominated by a single theme... belief in Christianity". Others have said that he is "almost by default... [labeled] a 'Japanese Catholic author' struggling to 'plant the seeds of his adopted religion' in the 'mudswamp' of Japan". It is true that he often likened Japan to a swamp or fen and that many of his characters are allegories. He often refers to the "godless Japanese" in his work. He may not be embraced by fellow Christians–Catholics in particular, however. Some of his characters (many of whom are allegories) may reference non-Western religions. While not the main focus of his works, a few of Endō's books mention Kakure Kirishitan. Incidentally, he used the term "かくれ切支舟" instead of the more common "かくれキリシタン".
His books reflect many of his childhood experiences, including the stigma of being an outsider, the experience of being a foreigner, the life of a hospital patient, and the struggle with TB. However, his books mainly deal with the moral fabric of life. His Catholic faith can be seen at some level in all of his books and it is often a central feature. Most of his characters struggle with complex moral dilemmas, and their choices often produce mixed or tragic results. His work may often be compared to that of Graham Greene. In fact, Greene himself labeled Endō one of the finest writers currently alive at the time.
While he lost out to Kenzaburō Õe the 1994 Nobel prize for literature, he did obtain the Order of Culture the subsequent year. Endō subsequently died from "complications of hepatitis" in 1996.
- White Men or White Man (1955)
- Yellow Man (1955): A novella in the form of a letter written by a young man, no longer a practicing Catholic, to his former pastor, a French missionary.
- 海と毒薬 (The Sea and Poison) (1957): Set largely in a Fukuoka hospital during World War II, this novel is concerned with medical experimentation carried out on downed American airmen. It is written with alternating points of view: the bulk of the story is written with a subjective, limited (but shifting) third-person view; three segments are told in first-person view. Inspired by true events, this novel was made into the 1986 movie The Sea and Poison. Directed by Kei Kumai, it stars Eiji Okuda and Ken Watanabe.
- Wonderful Fool (1959): A story about a kind, innocent and naive Frenchman visiting post-war Tōkyo.
- Stained Glass Elegies (1959)
- Volcano (1960): A novel concerning three declining figures: an apostate Catholic priest, the director of a weather station in provincial Japan, and the volcano on which the latter is an expert.
- 私が棄てた女 (The Girl I Left Behind) (1964): A story of a young man and his mismatches with an innocent young woman. As Endō writes in the foreword, one of the characters has a connection with Otsu, a character in the novel Deep River.
- 留学 (Ryuugaku) Foreign Studies (1965)
- 沈黙 (Chinmoku) Silence (1966): Winner of the 2nd Tanizaki Prize and Endō's most famous work, it is generally regarded as his masterpiece. This historical novel tells the story of a Portuguese missionary, based on the historical figure of Cristóvão Ferreira, in early 17th-century Japan who becomes an apostate under the threat of torture but continues to keep the Christian faith in private. The book inspired the feature film adaptation Os Olhos da Ásia by Portuguese film director João Mário Grilo.
- The Golden Country (1966): later Endō may have published a play under the same title.
- 死海のほとり ("Banks of the Dead Sea") (1973)
- イエスの生涯 (Life of Jesus) (1973)
- 口笛をふく時 (When I Whistle) (1974)
- Volcano (1979)
- 王妃マリーアントワネット Marie Antoinette (1979): This book inspired the musical Marie Antoinette by German musical dramatist and lyricist Michael Kunze.
- 侍 The Samurai (1980):A historical novel relating the diplomatic mission of Hasekura Tsunenaga to Mexico and Europe in the 17th century.
- 私の愛した小説 ("Novels loved by me") & 本当の私を求めて ("Search for the real me")
- Scandal (1986): Set in Tōkyo, the book is about a novelist who finds himself caught up in the scandal of the title.
- Deep River (1993): Set in India, it chronicles the physical and spiritual journey of a group of Japanese tourists who are facing a wide range of moral and spiritual dilemmas.
- The Final Martyrs (English translation in 2008)
- 1955 Akutagawa Prize — White Person (Shiroi hito 「白い人」)
- 1966 Tanizaki Prize — Silence (Chinmoku 「沈黙」)
The Shūsaku Endō Literary Museum, in Sotome, Nagasaki, is devoted to the writer's life and works.
- Morton, Leith (November 1994). The Image of Christ in the Fiction of Endō Shūsaku. Working Papers in Japanese Studies (in English) 8. Japanese Studies Center, Monash University, Australia.
- Williams, Mark B. (21 June 1999). Endō Shūsaku: a literature of reconciliation (in English). Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14481-0.
- Olive Classe. Encyclopedia of literary translation into English: A-L. Taylor & Francis. p. 406. ISBN 978-1-884964-36-7. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- Williams, p. 225
- Morton, p. 1
- Shusaku Endo Is Dead at 73; Japanese Catholic Novelist New York Times. September 30, 1996. Case, Eric.
- Morton, p. 2
- Williams, p. 226
- Shushaku Endo (1923–1996): his tuberculosis and his writings O.P. Sharma. Postgrad Med J. 2006 March; 82(965): 157–161.
- Morton, p. 3
- Morton, p. 11
- Morton, p. 8
- Emi Mase-Hasegawa (2008). Christ in Japanese culture: theological themes in Shusaku Endo's literary works. BRILL. p. 24. ISBN 978-90-04-16596-0. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- Williams, p. 1
- Williams, p. 60
- Morton, p. 4
- Morton, p. 5
- "Japan's Faithful Judas", by Philip Yancey
- "Confessions of a True Believer", by Caryl Phillips
- "Short biography" by Koichi Kato
- Grave of Endō Shūsaku