Stained Glass Elegies

Stained Glass Elegies

by Shūsaku Endō

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.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Rating: 3.60
  • Pages: 165
  • Publish Date: October 17th 1990 by New Directions
  • Isbn10: 0811211428
  • Isbn13: 9780811211420

Read the Book "Stained Glass Elegies" Online

It's simply thrilling to read how the famed young genius named Ono Mari has finally managed to appear amid the wreckage to perform her Solo Violin Concert on March 10 as advertised to the public. This extracted paragraphs should suffice in the meantime: Soon Mari came out onto the dusty stage, clutching her violin and bow in one hand. 'We were burned out of our house,' she apologized, the violin and bow dangling from her hands. Mari shook her head vigorously to get the hair out of her face, tucked the violin under her chin, leaned forward, bent her slender wrist sharply, and adjusted her bow.

The best stories are A Forty-Year-Old Man (1964), in which (you guessed it) Suguro is a hospitalized invalid with tuberculosis, who faces his own mortality and irrelevance as he undergoes a third major operation which may claim his life; Incredible Voyage (1968), a science fiction tale based on the 1960s American television series Fantastic Voyage, which concerns a newly minted doctor and a team of surgeons, who board a submarine that is shrunken to the size of a flea, in order to perform a life saving operation on a beautiful young woman; and Unzen (1965), in which a tourist from Tokyo visits the site where thousands of Christians were tortured and killed during the 17th century Shimbara Rebellion, which centers on Kichijiro, the main character of Endo's most famous and highly regarded novel Silence.

Having read and enjoyed several of Endos full-length novels, I didnt know quite what to expect from a collection of his short stories. As I ruminate on my experience reading this book, I conclude that Endos short fiction is not quite as powerful as his novels, and some of the pieces feel underdeveloped and uneven; nevertheless, there are some hidden gems to be savored here, and I would recommend this collection to the avid Endo fan. To help those that may have the same frustration, here is a list of the short stories included in this collection, followed by the year they were published in Japanese: - A Forty-Year-Old Man (1964) - Despicable Bastard (1959) - My Belongings (1963) - Fuda-no-Tsuji (?) - The Day Before (1963) - Incredible Voyage (1968) - Unzen (1965) - Mothers (1969) - Retreating Figures (1976) - The War Generation (1977) - Old Friends (1977) I have never thought of Endo as a writer of shishosetsu, commonly known as I-Novels or autobiographical fiction, but reading this collection has made me reconsider. One of the joys of reading these stories was the feeling of uncovering Endo himself, taking a peek at his actual past and the experiences that influenced his longer works.

Though everything comes out okay in the end, it's hard to know how to take this story of a besotted young man seeing his love up close. Of the other stories, perhaps the strongest are the opener "A Forty-Year Old Man" and "Mothers." The first tale describes the regret and guilt and quiet desperation of a man in hospital for a lung operation, visited by his wife, his sister-in-law (with whom he has had an affair) and her bored husband. "Mothers" is altogether the finest linking of the themes of past regret (in this case, of the narrator, a cool convert, toward his devout mother) and present interest (the narrator, a novelist of Catholic Japan, visiting a remote island with bizarre outlier Catholics called kakurereviled even by Japanese Catholics).

Endo writes vividly about the history of Christian martyrdom in Japan and his own personal experience of the pain of middle life in this short story collection.

Is your faith strong enough to withstand repeated beatings, starvation, torture and all the myriad of methods, one human being can devise to hurt and scar another?What if, they came for your family, friends, or even your neighbours?

Though he strikes close to Kawabata, he's a lot more compact--maybe cringy at a few points (like on Incredible Journey), but were enduring enough to the point where you wouldn't feel he's actually trying to be one.

It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, I guess, but Endo is truly obsessed with the idea of martyrdom in these 11 short stories.

Shusaku Endo ( ), born in Tokyo in 1923, was raised by his mother and an aunt in Kobe where he converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of eleven.