Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Silent Cry bears the traits of e’s fascination with existentialism, with which his study of French literature has thoroughly acquainted him, and whose influence has made e the foremost post modern author of Japan. Mitsu’s hints at the “nausea” with which he regards his brother’s activities are a direct allusion to Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel of the same name, La Nausee (1938; Nausea, 1949). With his insistence on a freely conceived murder as an act of existential liberation, Takashi finds himself on the same level as the protagonist of Albert Camus’ L’Etranger (1942; The Stranger, 1946).

The Silent Cry achieves a vision which enables e to close on a note of tenderness for the weak and the promise of a final defeat of futility for the adventurous. As with the protagonist of his earlier novel, Kojinteki na taiken (1964; A Personal Matter, 1968), Mitsu’s ultimate decision to bring his retarded son into his family constitutes a liberating moment in its submission to primal human values in the face of inexplicable truths and too many silent cries. As for the heroic, Takashi’s death shows the achievement of meaning on a mythic or fictional plane; like Mitsu’s friend, he will be remembered.