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"Kiku's Prayer" is told through the eyes of Kiku, a self-assured young woman from a rural Japanese village who falls in love with Seikichi, a devoted Catholic man. Practicing a faith still banned by the government, Seikichi is imprisoned but refuses to recant under torture. Kiku's efforts to reconcile her feelings for Seikichi's religion with the sacrifices she makes to free him mirror the painful, conflicting choices Japan faced as a result of exposure to modernity and the West. Seikichi's persecution exemplifies Japan's insecurities, and Kiku's tortured yet determined spirit represents the nation's resilient soul.
Set in the turbulent years of the transition from the shogunate to the Meiji Restoration, "Kiku's Prayer" embodies themes central to Endo Shusaku's work, including religion, modernization, and the endurance of the human spirit. Yet this novel is much more than a historical allegory. It acutely renders one woman's troubled encounter with passion and spirituality at a transitional time in her life and in the history of her people. A renowned twentieth-century Japanese author, Endo wrote from the perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. His work is often compared with that of Graham Greene, who himself considered Endo one of the century's finest writers.
In this moving novel, a group of Japanese tourists, each of whom is wrestling with his or her own demons, travels to the River Ganges on a pilgrimage of grace.
This comprehensive anthology collects works of fiction, poetry, drama, and essay-writing from a pivotal time in Japanese history. In addition to their literary achievements, the texts reflect the political, social, and intellectual changes that occurred in Japanese society during this period, including exposure to Western ideas and literature, the rise of nationalism, and the complex interaction of traditional and modern forces. The volume " "offers outstanding, often new translations of classic texts by such celebrated writers as Nagai Kafu, Shimazaki Toson, Natsume Soseki, Kawabata Yasunari, and Yosano Akiko. The editors have also unearthed works from lesser-known women writers, many of which have never been available in English.
Organized chronologically and by genre within each period, the volume reveals the major influences in the development of modern Japanese literature: the Japanese classics themselves, the example of Chinese poetry, and the encounter with Western literature and culture. Modern Japanese writers reread the classics of Japanese literature, infused them with contemporary language, and refashioned them with an increased emphasis on psychological elements. They also reinterpreted older aesthetic concepts in light of twentieth-century mentalities. While modern ideas captured the imagination of some Japanese writers, the example of classical Chinese poetry remained important for others. Meiji writers continued to compose poetry in classical Chinese and adhere to a Confucian system of thought. Another factor in shaping modern Japanese literature was the example of foreign works, which offered new literary inspiration and opportunities for Japanese readers and writers.
Divided into four chapters, the anthology begins with the early modern texts of the 1870s, continues with works written during the years of social change preceding World War I and the innovative writing of the interwar period, and concludes with texts from World War II. Each chapter includes a helpful critical introduction, situating the works within their literary, political, and cultural contexts. Additionally, there are biographical introductions for each writer.
Offers a religious vision combining Christian faith with Buddhist acceptance in the story of a group of Japanese tourists who converge at the Ganges River in India.
The arresting beauty of Shusaku Endo's fiction is best known in the West through his highly acclaimed novels The Samurai and Silence. His consummately wrought short stories, with their worlds of deep shadows and achieved clarity, are less familiar. The dozen stories of Stained Glass Elegies, selected by the author together with his translator, display the full range of Endo's talents in short fiction.
Eleven short, deeply spiritual stories ranging from autobiographical serendipities to solemn, empathetic parables. The title story is set during the 18th-century Shogunate persecution of Christians in Japan.
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