“A Place Where Death Keeps Watch”: Endō Shūsaku – A Japanese Christian Writer in Auschwitz

By Justyna Weronika Kasza.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The proposed paper presents the profile of a contemporary Japanese Christian writer Endō Shūsaku and his literary testimonies on Auschwitz.
In my discussion, I take into consideration both his non-fictional and fictional texts, I examine the literary images of Auschwitz (based on his short stories and novels), and I also investigate, by referring to his essayistic body of work, to what philosophical or theological reflections Endō was inclined by this topic. However, the outlook proposed by Endō in the number of his narratives in relation to Auschwitz, turns out to be significantly complex. It constitutes, on the one hand, the perception of a Christian (writer), who deliberates on “the silence of God” but simultaneously, searches for the traces of the “rays of light”, “the dim light of hope”. Thus, Endō-the Christian, when visiting the remains of the camp, would be looking for the premise: in defiance of evil. Yet, at the same time, this Christian perspective is confronted with Endō’s Japanese background, namely, with the experience of the reality of war in Japan, the burden carried out by the writer throughout his life. Therefore, the reflections that Endō makes on Auschwitz frequently contain recollections of the images of wartime Japan. My argumentation should lead me towards revealing how, through the tension obtained on the axis Endō the Christian-Endō the Japanese, “the Japanese post-Auschwitz author” wanders through the area that he recognizes as “a place where death keeps watch.”

Keywords: Endō Shūsaku, War, Auschwitz, Japan, Christianity

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.197-210. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 788.538KB).

Dr Justyna Weronika Kasza

PhD Candidate, Department of East Asian Studies , School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

In 2006, I was awarded an MA in Japanese Studies, Oriental Institute at University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan (Poland). I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies (University of Leeds, UK). From October 2008 to September 2009, I was a researcher at Institute of Comparative Culture at Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan) under the Japan Foundation Doctoral Programme. My research investigates the problem of evil in the works of a Japanese writer, Endō Shūsaku. In order to comprehend Endō’s complex and diverse perceptions of evil, I analyze his essays and non-fiction works, as they seem to have profoundly contributed to the process of his formation, not only as a contemporary writer, but also as thinker and an intellectual. The submitted abstract of the paper is the part of my PhD thesis entitled: ‘The Problem of Evil in the Works of Endō Shūsaku: Between Reading and Writing’.

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