Polysemy of the Other: Endō Shūsaku’s Encounter with the West


Author: Justyna Weronika Kasza, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom
Published: May 2013

Citation: Kasza, J. W. (2013). Polysemy of the Other: Endō Shūsaku’s Encounter with the West. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.2.1.03


The paper discusses the polysemy of the categories of otherness and the Other in selected works of a Japanese contemporary writer, Endō Shūsaku (1923–1996). These categories, situated within Paul Ricœur’s interpretative framework differentiate three figures of otherness recognisable in Endō’s texts: the physical otherness (termed by Endō as “white man” versus “yellow man”); the notion of the Other as the interlocutor on the level of the cross-cultural discourse; and the third figure of otherness, termed by Ricœur the “otherness of conscience”, that brings identity into question. This paper explores the significance of these categories in Endō’s writing in two consecutive stages. First, in the writer’s encounter with French literature and thought, and later by a transformed and expanded form of otherness found within his fictional works, particularly in his last novel, Deep River. Based on Endō’s literary experience of encounters, exchanges and transformations, I argue that for Endō otherness is an important device in understanding of the self. Thus, the writer’s approach to otherness echoes Ricœur’s words: “the self could return home only at the end of long journey. And it is ‘as another’ that the self returned.”


Endō Shūsaku, otherness, the Other, Ricœur, hermeneutics