Shūsaku Endō

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Shūsaku Endō
Born(1923-03-27)March 27, 1923
Tokyo, Japan
DiedSeptember 29, 1996(1996-09-29) (aged 73)
Tokyo, Japan
OccupationWriter
NationalityJapanese
CitizenshipJapan
GenresNovels
Literary movement"Third Generation"
Notable work(s)Silence
Spouse(s)Junko Endo (wife, m. 1955)
 
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Shūsaku Endō
Born(1923-03-27)March 27, 1923
Tokyo, Japan
DiedSeptember 29, 1996(1996-09-29) (aged 73)
Tokyo, Japan
OccupationWriter
NationalityJapanese
CitizenshipJapan
GenresNovels
Literary movement"Third Generation"
Notable work(s)Silence
Spouse(s)Junko Endo (wife, m. 1955)

Shūsaku Endō (遠藤 周作 Endō Shūsaku?, March 27, 1923 – September 29, 1996)[1] was a Japanese author who wrote from the rare perspective of a Japanese Roman 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.

Biography[edit]

Soon after Endō was born in Tokyo in 1923 his family moved to Dalian, part of the Kwantung Leased Territory in Manchuria.[1] When his parents divorced in 1933, Endō's mother brought him back to Japan to live with an aunt in Kobe.[2] Some say it was his mother, who had converted to Catholicism post-divorce,[1] who had Endō baptized at the age of 11 or 12[3] in the year 1934.[2] Others say an aunt instigated the initiation.[4]

Endō began studying at Keio University in 1943[3] but did not graduate until 1948 because he was drafted into a munitions factory to help the Japanese military fight World War Two.[2] Nonetheless he contributed to several literary journals during this period. In 1968 he would become Chief Editor of one of these journals, Mita Bungaku.[5]

His alma mater is not the only university Endō is associated with. He first attended Waseda University for the stated purpose of studying medicine,[1] an interest in French Catholic authors[3] precipitated[citation needed] a visit to the University of Lyon beginning in 1950,[6] and he has lectured at at least two Tokyo universities.[6] In 1956, he was hired as an Instructor at Sophia University,[2] and Seijo University assigned him the role of "Lecturer on the Theory of the Novel" in 1967.[5] He is considered a novelist not a university professor, however.[6]

In 1954, a year after completing his studies in France, he won the Akutagawa Prize for Shiroi Hito (White Men).[6] Endō married Okada Junko,[1] a year later.[6] They are the parents of one son,[6] Ryūnosuke,[4] born in 1956.

Throughout his life periodic bouts of disease plagued him, and he spent two years in hospital at one point.[6] In 1952, while studying in France, he came down with pleurisy in Paris.[2] 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.[5] It is possible that at some point during his life he may have contracted tuberculosis,[7] underwent thoracoplasty,[7] and had a lung removed.[6]

While Endō wrote in several genres,[8] 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".[3] 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".[1] It is true that he often likened Japan to a swamp or fen[9] and that many of his characters are allegories.[8] He may not be embraced by fellow Christians–Catholics in particular, however.[8] Some of his characters (many of whom are allegories) may reference non-Western religions.[8] While not the main focus of his works, a few of Endō's books mention Kakure Kirishitan.[10] Incidentally, he used the term "かくれ切支舟" instead of the more common "かくれキリシタン".[11]

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.[12] In fact, Greene himself labeled Endō one of the finest writers currently alive at the time.[4]

While he lost out to Kenzaburo Oe the 1994 Nobel prize for literature,[4] he did obtain the Order of Culture the subsequent year.[5] Endō died shortly thereafter from complications of hepatitis at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo on September 29, 1996.[4]

Works[edit]

Awards[edit]

Museum[edit]

The Syusaku Endo Literature Museum, in Sotome, Nagasaki, is devoted to the writer's life and works.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Olive Classe. Encyclopedia of literary translation into English: A-L. Taylor & Francis. p. 406. ISBN 978-1-884964-36-7. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Williams, p. 225
  3. ^ a b c d Morton, p. 1
  4. ^ a b c d e Shusaku Endo Is Dead at 73; Japanese Catholic Novelist New York Times. September 30, 1996. Case, Eric.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Williams, p. 226
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Morton, p. 2
  7. ^ a b Shushaku Endo (1923–1996): his tuberculosis and his writings O.P. Sharma. Postgrad Med J. 2006 March; 82(965): 157–161.
  8. ^ a b c d Morton, p. 3
  9. ^ Morton, p. 11
  10. ^ Morton, p. 8
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Williams, p. 1
  13. ^ Williams, p. 60
  14. ^ Morton, p. 4
  15. ^ Morton, p. 5

External links[edit]