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CompleteMartialArts.com - Deep River


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Manufacturer: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 895.635
EAN: 9780811213202
ISBN: 081121320X
Label: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Manufacturer: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 224
Publication Date: 1995
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Studio: New Directions Publishing Corporation

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Editorial Reviews:

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. "Endo has successfully dramatized the discovery that the sacred river of humanity flows within ourselves."--National Catholic Reporter.


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Solid
Comment: Deep River revolves around a # of Japanese tourists in a group who visit the sacred Ganges River in India. The fact that so little of the book has to do with the West, in any way, is at 1st a bit unsettling, then quite a relief. In the best passages of the book a Western reader will see parallel human traits & those peregrine side-by-side. This forces the reader to think how different our customs might seem with a little distance. The story is set during the time Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by militant Sikhs, yet wends back & forth through time to give us background on several of the tourists. There is Isobe, the widower- trying to deal with his wife's death, as well as his terminal infidelity to her. His grief & guilt manifests itself in his quest to find her reincarnated in India. Kiguchi is haunted by the wartime horrors he saw during the Japanese invasion of Burma, as well as his own near-death experience, & the subsequent mooching from him by the man who saved his life. He seeks to deal with the war in his pilgrimage. Otsu is a failed seminarian dealing with his own beliefs, reviled by Mitsuko- a sexually wanton woman with her own issues, who cruelly seduced Otsu, years earlier, as a challenge to see whether she could break his faith. Years later, after ending a loveless marriage, she seeks redemption & forgiveness from Otsu, who is rumored to live in India. Most moving of all is Numada, recovering from tuberculosis. He is a short story writer who believes he can talk to animals- who act as his Muse. He believes a pet bird his wife bought died in his place when he recovered from his illness. The most poetic & evocative moments come when we see Numada's interactions when, as a boy, his wealthy family owned land in occupied Manchuria, & he shared a friendship with a Chinese houseboy, & a puppy the houseboy trained for him so his parents would not kill it. This was when his connection to animals began, & he longs to see India's fabulous bird sanctuaries before he dies.... Overall I'd marginally recommend the book, but do not expect a classic, more a book that you'll be left wishing was fleshed out more. I don't know how long it took Endo to write this book, but I get the sense that he may have rushed it, as he died soon after it was released in the mid-1990s. Had he focused more on just 1 or 2 of the tales, the whole novel may have found more focus. As it is, it's sort of a philosophical hail of bullets. Unfortunately, in the non-material world, this does more damage to the gun than the target.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: reflecting at the ganges
Comment: Deep River by Shusaku Endo is of centered on a few individual that are part of a group Japanese tourists who had journeyed to the Ganges River in the middle of India. Throughout the story, he unveils their individual spiritual and emotional pasts, together, they had ventured there in silent separation in search for inner restoration. Whether in a spiritual or literal sense, every character has faced some sort of death, and was or waiting for a rebirth; the theme of death and rebirth could be found throughout the story.

Endo surrounds the story on five main characters. Might they lead their own separate paths, they have found themselves ventured in a land so foreign to their mind-frame for a purpose they might not be able to justify logically. There is Isobe, who was seeking for his dead wife reincarnated. Numada, who had went all the way to India to pay homage to a bird he believed has died in place of him. Mitsuko is a woman who never felt loved or alive and wanted to reconcile her past to Otsu, a former college "loser"--who desired to become a priest, but was rejected by the Catholic Church--whom she never was able to escape the wrong she has done him, but was drawn to him for reasons she never could understand. And Kiguchi, a former World War II veteran who was seeking for inner peace from the former horrors of deaths he had experienced.

This story can be view as a challenge taken by the author over the Western theological and cultural ideals, particular the Catholic Christian. I believe he has deliberately posed the question of just what might salvation look in light of his characters' long-sufferings. Death is an inevitable and inescapable part of life, and in order to attain wholeness, one needs face of his/her pain. As Otsu--whom I could rightly call Mitsuko's "object of rejection" than of affection--responds to Mitsuko's indignation over his choice in life, he speaks of his savior's death and rejection as the key to humanity's transgression. It was the betrayal by mankind that made Christ's message so powerful, for "as a result, he was etched into each of their guilty hearts, and they were never able to forget him...He died, but he was restored to life in their hearts"(Deep River 185). Endo reinforced his point by noting Otsu has not the "fluid flavored rhetoric," whose convictions can go no further than his lips, rather "Otsu's words were substantiated by the life of misfortune he had led" (Deep River 185). While the story ended in an unresolved peak, I wonder what he seeking to communicate, and just what might he want for those to take from the thresholds of life to his readers? Regardless, whether it is pain or healing, rejection or forgiveness, Endo has successfully woven a story that connects life to death and rebirth.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Tremendous
Comment: "... in every companionship there remains a mutually insoluble loneliness." This quote from 'Deep River' decribes the void within all 5 of Endo's protagonists. All 5 Japanese end up in India after a life of loss and suffering has led them there, 4 of them on a tour (each seeking their own form of closure) and the fifth, Otsu, a failed seminarian, is there, for it was the endpoint of his own spiritual struggle and reconciliation with modernity. Endo's writing is crisp and effortless and defies you to put it down. Endo is known as a 'Catholic' writer, but in the end I think it's fair to say that he takes all (organized) religions to task in this novel - and rightly so. Everyone's struggle is personal, w/ life and death, and it's our aggregate struggle with our 'insoluble loneliness' that leads to the strife and suffering in this world. This is a powerful novel, a masterpiece.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Searching for Peace in an Expanded Horizon
Comment: This is a beautiful story of 5 people searching for the inner peace that has eluded them throughout much, if not all, of their lives. The cause of their inner turmoil comes from a variety of sources but their emptiness and incompleteness is very real. Shusaku Endo introduces us to each of them seperately and then has them all, for seperate reasons, journey to India. They are in a guided tour that will supposedly show them a number of Buddhist shrines and historical sites. Their trip leads them to the Ganges River where they initially off at and then are all drawn to its' sacredness. The author gives us a serene glimpse of a sort of peace descending upon the 5 pilgrims. It may not be the peace they sought or would recognize, but it seems to be the peace they needed.

Shusaku Endo is a Japanese Christian who writes challengely about his own faith. To me, the core of his message in "Deep River" is the universal nature of faith and the universal nature of God. He exists for all of us but we come to know Him through the religion of our culture. Thus the Hindus, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists, etc are all seeking the same ultimate oneness with God (i.e.; peace) but they are each traveling different paths outlined through them in a theology passed along through the millennia. To illustrate his point, Endu shows us the five seperate tales of redemption and has them all come to salvation at a Hindu holy site. God DOES work in mysterious ways.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: A global odysey originating in Japan, culminates in India
Comment: During a tour in India, five very different Japanese characters meet near the holy Ganges river: a man who grieves the death of a wife he had neglected; a woman bitten by her own cynicism and growing sense of inner void; a Japanese man who disaffection for the Christian life he adopted leads him to seek spiritual renewal elsewhere; and a former Japanese solider still haunted by the memories of atrocities in war-time Japanese-occupied Burma. Shusaku Endo masterfully builds up these full bodied characters through deft brushstrokes of key passages in their lives. Individual chapters show the inner turmoil and personal changes which lead these characters to their encounter (or re-encounter) in India, including a young Japanese who becomes disatisfied with the Christian life to which he had converted in his early youth and later followed in France; a widower in quest of the soul of her husband; and others.

Looking at a few quotes extracted from a dialogue between two Japanese characters in the novel will give you a sense of the encounters and re-encounters between individuals and the cross-cultural encounters, all of which are a strong feature of the play. In this dialogue which takes place in Paris, a Japanese woman talks to Otsu, one of the main characters who became a Christian early in his life in Japan.

The woman declares: "...It makes my teeth stand on edge just to think of you as a Japanese believing in this European Christianity nonsense." Otsu replies: "I've been here three years. For three years I have lived here and I have tired of the way people think. The ways of thinking that they've kneaded with their own hands and fashioend to meet the workings of their hearts..they're ponderous to an Asian like me. I can't blend in with them. And so everyday is hell for me..."

The reader of this novel who is not Japanese will gain some interesting insights into how Japanese might react to these different cultural settings, as characters move from Japan to France to the United States, and finally meet in India. Endo delivers a very personal sense of cross-cultural encounters, recognizable to those of us who have gone through similar journeys in different parts of the world.

Since I have only read Japanese novels in translation into either English or French, I cannot fairly judge Endo's style against other Japanese writers who are also well known to foreign readers, like Mishima and Kawabata. But while Endo may not share the grace and delicacy of these writers, his novels, including this one, are very human, and bring us very close to the inner lives of his characters.

If you want to better understand how Japanese come to view the rest of the world, or more generally how different cultures can collide, Endo's novels and his characters are a good place to start, or to continue, your journey.



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