Abbot Andrew’s application of Girardian theory to Shusaku Endo’s novel (and Martin Scorcese’s film) ‘Silence’. Reading this book after college, while the evangelical interpretation of my faith was beginning to deteriorate, was an important moment for me. Spoilers abound in the commentary, so beware. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to seeing the film.
Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence has haunted, troubled, and uneasily edified many readers, me among them, since it was written. Scorsese’s film does the same, although the visual effects amplify the haunting, troubling and uneasy edification. The novel follows the book very closely. Very little, perhaps nothing, has been left out of the book by the movie. This review is primarily a response to the movie but it is a review of the book as well.
Certain dimensions of the novel/movie are brought out with the help of the French thinker René Girard. Girard discovered the anthropological trait of what he called “mimetic desire” in the greatest of Western novels, such as Don Quixote and Brothers Karamazov and in the plays of Shakespeare. Mimetic desire is imitating, not the actions of another, but the desires of another. Girard goes on to analyze ways that mimetic desire becomes conflictual and escalates…
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