In the early 1950s Shusaku Endo spent several years as an exchange student studying in Paris. Around him existentialism, Sartre and Beckett were making the city the literary and philosophical capital of the world. But for Endo the experience was deeply alienating and he came away infected with tuberculosis, his studies incomplete and convinced that there could be no cultural commerce between East and West. Foreign Studies consists of three linked narratives exploring this theme.
The first part, ‘A Summer in Rouen’, concerns Kudo, a Japanese student invited to France in the 1950s. It is a lucid snapshot of a young man who feels adrift in a Western country. The second part, ‘Araki Thomas’, sees Endo on familiar territory as he tells of an apostate Japanese Catholic who has visited seventeenth-century Rome. ‘And You, Too’, the third part, is the story of Tanaka, a Japanese scholar of French literature who visits France in the 1960s to research the life and work of the Marquis de Sade. We soon come to see that Tanaka’s quest is not simply a literary one but spiritual and cultural too.
Translated from the Japanese by Mark Williams
‘An immaculate, limpid moral tale, beautifully translated into English.’ – Financial Times
‘Endo has the major novelist’s genius for making out of his own and his culture’s predicaments works of art of wholly universal relevance.’ – Paul Binding, European
‘There is nothing superfluous in Endo’s writing; everything imparts meaning, reinforcing the central theme, giving more subtle shading to the whole. Foreign Studies is quite brilliant.’ – Scotland on Sunday
SHUSAKU ENDO (1923 – 96) is widely regarded as one of the greatest Japanese authors of the late twentieth century. He has won many major literary awards and was nominated for the Novel Prize several times. His novels, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages, include Silence, The Sea and Poison, Deep River, Scandal and The Samurai.
|Date Published||7th January 2009|