Thursday, December 15, 2016
How Endo's Deep Water differs from the romantic film comedy Marigold Hotel
S Endo's Deep Water, about a group of Japanese tourists who visit India, each on his or own spiritual quest, is not at all to be confused w/ works such as that "charming" movie the Great Marigold Hotel, or whatever it was called, in which the English visitors arrive, each w/ various prejudices and expectations, and at first they're overwhelmed by the poverty and the chaos, but by the end the chosen few fall in love w/ India (and with each other) while, as if in a miracle, the crowds and poverty kind of disappear! No - Endo's novel is stubborn and dark; I'm not quite at the end, but we can see (or so I think) how the Japanese visitors will be moved by India, but frustrated in their quests and attempts at closure. Did we really expect that the widowed businessman, Isobe (whose wife told him with her dying breaths that she was sure she would be re-incarnated and pleaded w/ him to search for her) would find her in the personage of a 4-year-old village girl? No, he arrives at the village, the children make fun of his inability to communicate, he learns that the child (who had made some news by talking about a previous life) and her family have moved to a big city - end of story - and he drowns his sorrows in whiskey. Similarly, the woman in search of the young student she'd tormented in college days who now is a Catholic priest - finds that he has left the church - his views on religion are pantheistic and therefore heretical - and is helping the most impoverished of people with death ceremonies at the Ganges. Perhaps in the concluding chapters some of the characters will have their meet-ups, but it's apparent that any resolution to their various spiritual crises will come from within, from their own advancing self-knowledge, and not via divine absolution or miraculous conversion.