Wonderful Fool (Peter Owen Modern Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2000/9
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In this book, Gaston Bonaparte, ironically a descendant of Napoleon, arrives in Tokyo as the guest of a typically middle-class, materialistic Japanese family. Gas, however, is irresistibly drawn to victims, to the downtrodden in Japanese society and he nourishes them with compassion. --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
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You have maybe met someone like Gaston Bonaparte? The sort of man who apologizes when you step on his foot; who'd rather be cheated than think someone dishonest. Who is, naturally, held in a sort of weary pity by his family and in complete scorn by almost anyone else.
Endo addresses in this novel what it is that world values and what it does to a man who who is apart from those values. While the rest of the world cannily pursues it's own ends (survival, or better, and reproduction) Gaston is --quite unintentionally--pursuing that proffession which is revered in name but entirely held in contempt in actual practice. Gaston is maybe not a man who is good for much, certainly not in the world's eyes -but sainthood has ever been the most egalitarian of vocations.
There is a powerful case made for man's free will implicitly in this, but also in the novel's character, Endo, who is the opposite and the reflection of Gaston. He too though, is pursuing his end regardless of even himself -to the extent of refusing to take antibiotics for a tuberculosis infected lung.
Perhaps the novel's most poignant theme is it's message that even at our most debased and broken, God has not forgotten or given up on us. Endo's illustration of this is original and startling; Gaston chooses to follow after Endo at a cost and in a way that could only be called insane by anyone the world would call sane.
Endo's writing is simple and elegant and executed in an exciting, almost cinematic manner. It keeps the reader turning the pages through the book's all too short duration. If I had to say something critical about this book, I might mention that the writing is not as smooth as some of Endo's later works -it lacks subtlety at moments and there are plot possibilites which are raised and not pursued. That is just nothing though, to the whole of how wonderful this book really is.
His characters always act from weakness and sorrow and struggle and failure. Gaston, the socially inept, the ugly, the slow-minded, reaching out to Japan with the most powerful thing in the world, love, but covered in a ball of rags.
Like Scandal this novel contained characters deeply effected by warcrimes that those close to them had participated in. The hitman Endo (Endo likes to make the criminal characters reflect identity with him in some way in some of his novels, naming the hitman Endo or making the main character of Scandal a Christian writer, like Endo, of a Life of Christ.) turns to a life of hatred and coldblooded murder when faced with his brother's having carried out orders to burn the occupants of a village and the brother's subsequent framing by his commanding officers. Gaston persistantly, doggedly, beyond all civil tepid-ity, urges Endo from a position of weakness not to go through with his plot of revenge on the officers. Gaston, despite his outer weakness and failure, is a real man, as the character Takamori discerns, because he takes a stand for the right thing despite his weaknesses that he could have so easily taken as excuses not to do what he should. It is integrity to the gospel that Endo has witnessed, bears witness to, keeps within himself. The "fool" is wonderful for this integrity, this sacred obedience, this longsuffering love, which endures blows and persecutions by the ones he is trieing to help, and which has takes the courage to recognize that he can and must help, that he must, despite all his weakness and absurdity in the eyes of the world, come to Japan for love. Hallelujah!
Endo ends by tieing Gaston's mysterious end into the early Japanese story, "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter."