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The Poetics of Conversion and the Problem of Translation in Endō Shūsaku's Silence

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Chapter Summary

Endō Shūsaku's depiction of Sebastian Rodrigues focuses on the priest's inner turmoil with regard to his mission a struggle that sets the stage for his apostasy and reveals the full extent of the spiritual and psychic ruptures caused by the decision to step on the fumie. The conversion depicted in Silence is the outcome of both a struggle with the meaning of religious faith and a clash of cultures. Within these psychological and social contexts conversion is presented as an ongoing negotiation between competing narratives of identity. In the case of Silence Endō's novel reveals in the play of its words the narrative transformations that make conversion possible, suggesting that an analysis of conversion is in some measure a venture in poetics. Silence raises the problem of the appropriateness and applicability of Christian doctrine and belief to cultures other than those of Western societies.

Keywords: Christian doctrine; Endō Shūsaku; religious faith; Sebastian Rodrigues's conversion; Silence; Western societies



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