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When I Whistle (1974)

de Shūsaku Endō

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2072129,037 (4.07)1 / 42
One of Endo's most unusual and powerful novels is set largely in a modern hospital, with themes and scenes that eerily seem to predate Never Let Me Go   A jaded businessman has a chance encounter with the doctor son of his best friend at school, Ozu, and memories are stirred of a former love interest of Ozu's, Aiko. The son of his friend proves to be contemptuous of the outmoded values of his father's world and ruthless in pursuit of success at his hospital. The story reaches a terrible climax when Aiko, now a middle-aged cancer-sufferer, is admitted to the hospital and Ozu leads the way in experimenting on her with dangerous drugs. … (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porDzaowan, TomScott89, rudycos, IHMLibrary, ycal, natsuki789, ejerig, rafezz
  1. 00
    The Sea and Poison de Shūsaku Endō (lilisin)
    lilisin: Similar themes that work well together. I would read "Sea and Poison" first followed by "When I Whistle".
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 Author Theme Reads: When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo.5 por ler / 5rebeccanyc, Dezembro 2012

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This novel was easier to read than most of the other works by Endō that I've read, and was extremely moving, perhaps more so for me than the more overtly religiously themed novels. Nonetheless, it deals with the issue that should be at the heart of any religion -- how we treat each other.

The novel contrasts a father and a son, in more or less alternating chapters. As the story begins, a chance encounter with a former schoolmate on a train reminds middle-aged Ozu, the father, of his years in semi-rural Nada Middle School (which was really what we would call a high school) just before World War II began, and in particular of a strange boy who became his best friend, nicknamed Flatfish. This part of the novel then consists of Ozu and Flatfish's experiences in school, where they were in a class for less motivated students, continuing after their graduation when Ozu goes to college and Flatfish to work, and then into the years when both are drafted into the Japanese army. At the same time, Flatfish becomes enamored of a girl he cannot bring himself to talk to, Aiko. He yearns to impress her, and remains touchingly devoted to her, from afar, after he moves away and goes to war. He even entrusts Ozu with a mission to bring her money when he learns that she is married and pregnant. The story of the lifelong friendship between these two boys and then young men not only captures a time in Japanese history but also vividly depicts the values of friendship and loyalty.

Contrasted with this is the story of Ozu's son, Eiichi, a doctor at a hospital (called a dispensary) in presumably 1970s Tokyo. Although Eiichi still lives with his family, he stays away from home as much as possible. He is eager to get ahead at all costs, schemes constantly, uses people to meet his own needs, and resents his father for not being ambitious and successful and helping him out, as the father of one of his colleagues has done. He doesn't hesitate to follow the orders and perceived wishes of his superiors, who have ulterior financial and professional motives, even when these clearly interfere with the needs of the patients. In fact, he doesn't care about the patients at all, and belittles and plots against a doctor who does; he cares only about his own success. I must say I found him an extremely unpleasant character.

In the end, the two strands of the novel intersect in what is perhaps a difficult-to-believe plot point. Nonetheless, I found this a lovely novel. Like The Sea and Poison, it deals with medical ethics, but not in nearly so horrific a way. More importantly, it illustrates what Endō may have believed were lost values: respect and love for our fellow human beings.
6 vote rebeccanyc | Dec 14, 2012 |
Those who have followed my threads (particularly the Club Read 2011 thread) will remember my great praise for Endo's [Sea and Poison]. His writing style, for one, and his uncomfortable plot about Japanese doctor's performing vivisections on American soldiers. His take on right or wrong morality in the face of potential medical progress was fascinating as was his focus on the concept of rank and talking out in Japanese society.

[When I Whistle] takes on a similar role and is similarly fascinating.

Dr. Ozu is a doctor ready to do whatever it takes to get ahead in the medical world. He is quick to follow his superviser's orders and will never question a doctor of higher rank if he thinks it'll put him under a weary eye. Despite knowing that a better treatment could be at hand. He is manipulative of his peers and will downplay others to cast a "good" light on himself. His scheming brang out disgust as I read on.

But the book isn't actually about Dr. Ozu, but instead about Dr. Ozu's father, Ozu. (Distinction between Dr. Ozu and Ozu is important hence the "Dr." notation.) The book focuses on Ozu and his relationship with a childhood friend named Flatfish as they grow up during military time. Unlike his son, Ozu was a poor student growing up and didn't care about making it in life, and his friend Flatfish wasn't any better. But the two of them were able to form this friendship that helped better themselves in a better way. Flatfish's affections for this one girl and how he continues to prize his memories of her is amazing and something that is truly lost in this world.

This discrepancy between Ozu's world and Dr. Ozu's world is quite jarring but it's what makes the book so lovely and thus highly recommended. If only I hadn't waited so long to write a review; it might have come out a little better. In any case, this is a wonderful "sequel" to [Sea and Poison]. ( )
6 vote lilisin | Mar 25, 2012 |
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Shūsaku Endōautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Cunningham, KeithDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Gessel, Van C.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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One of Endo's most unusual and powerful novels is set largely in a modern hospital, with themes and scenes that eerily seem to predate Never Let Me Go   A jaded businessman has a chance encounter with the doctor son of his best friend at school, Ozu, and memories are stirred of a former love interest of Ozu's, Aiko. The son of his friend proves to be contemptuous of the outmoded values of his father's world and ruthless in pursuit of success at his hospital. The story reaches a terrible climax when Aiko, now a middle-aged cancer-sufferer, is admitted to the hospital and Ozu leads the way in experimenting on her with dangerous drugs. 

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