Shsaku End, the future Catholic convert and prominent writer, was born in Tokyo, Japan, on March 27, 1923. Four years later, his parents moved to Dairen, a city in southern Manchuria. Six years later, End’s mother, a domineering woman, left her husband and returned with End and his elder brother to Japan. She, together with her family, took up residence with her Catholic sister in Tokyo. After his mother became a Catholic convert, End was persuaded, at the age of eleven, to be baptized in the Catholic faith. For a long time, however, he felt uncomfortable with this foreign religion. To him, as Van C. Gessel has written, Catholicism felt like “an ill-fitting suit of Western-style clothes,” which he attempted through his future writing “to retailor into native Japanese attire.”
Pleurisy kept End out of World War II. Later in life, he was often hospitalized for respiratory ailments, culminating in the removal of a lung. His hospital experiences often figure in his fiction. In 1945, he entered Keio University in Tokyo, a prestigious private institution, where he majored in French literature. In 1950, he went to France, the first Japanese to study abroad after the war. There, he attended the University of Lyons, specializing in French Catholic authors such as Paul Claudel, Mauriac, and Bernanos. In Europe, End hoped to recover from the “anguish of an alien,” which he had felt since his religious conversion. His entry into an environment in which...
(The entire section is 573 words.)