Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Conflict and confusion: Bewildered travel in the fiction of Shusaku Endo
by Hanson, Alan S., M.A.L.S., Georgetown University, 2009, 111; 1470596
Abstract (Summary)

In Frederick Ruf’s recently published book Bewildered Travel , he theorizes that travelers set out specifically to seek confusion or bewilderment and that this makes travel – all travel – religious. Ruf set forth his admittedly idiosyncratic view of travel and religion in the Introduction of his book: Leaving home, stepping into the way that will lead us away, far away, walking among strangers, being stunned, getting lost – these are religious behaviors. (Ruf 2007, 4)

Shusaku Endo, one of the most important Japanese writers of fiction in the post-war period, has an unusual background – he was born in Japan, raised in China, educated partly in France and converted to Catholicism at age eleven. Many of his fictional works are based on the experience of travel. These include his masterpiece, Silence, and also The Samurai, Wonderful Fool and Deep River. Endo apparently uses travel as a mechanism to explore the conflicts, confusion and alienation that occur when East meets West and vice versa.

Ruf’s book focuses on Western and primarily American authors. This raises the question of whether Ruf’s theory of bewildered travel serves as a unifying principle by which one can analyze and better understand the fictional writings of Shusaku Endo which have travel as a central thematic element.

The intent of this thesis was to undertake a close reading of four of Endo’s travel-related novels and analyze them using Ruf’s Bewildered Travel as a lens to bring them into focus. The result of this analysis is that Endo’s novels do in fact conform to the precepts identified by Ruf regarding bewildered travel. One can thus conclude that the works of Shusaku Endo add to the body of literature that supports Ruf’s idiosyncratic view of travel as a religious undertaking.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ruf, Frederick J.
School: Georgetown University
Department: Liberal Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 48/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Modern literature, Asian literature
Keywords: Bewildered travel, England, Graham Greene, Japan, Shusaku Endo
Publication Number: 1470596
ISBN: 978-1-109-52249-5
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