Scandal by Endo Shusaku

A book review.

Scandal is the title of the novel written by Endo Shusaku in 1986. Its setting is modern Tokyo, centered around the Yoyogi-Harajuku area.

The way Endo describes Yoyogi, Harajuku and Shinjuku in the eighties is just as I remembered it. In 1986, Yoyogi and Shibuya were my main playgrounds. For that reason, it’s especially meaningful to me.

The novel itself is a treatment of the nature of man. The main character, Suguro, is a novelist who in every way resembles Endo himself. Suguro is a highly respected, award winning novelist. He is thought to be upright, moral, socially sanitized.

Gradually, Suguro is forced to admit that he has an evil side. An extremely evil side. So much so that it makes his “main side” look like a fabrication. Which side is real? Both sides?

In the final chapters, we find Suguro in a hotel room, with the embodiment of innocence – a middle school girl by the name of Mitsu – intoxicated, naked and unconscious on the bed.

He wants to rescue the young girl. He wants to take her out of the hotel room now, before anybody can harm her.

He does that, but not before molesting and strangling her.

So which is it? Are we evil? Or are we good?

I think I’m a good person myself, but I am also aware of my extreme capacity for evil. I think we all have that capacity. History shows us we do. In a sense, we have two “natures”. A “good” nature that tells us to be good, regardless of negative consequences. And an equally extravagant “evil” nature.

Yes, that’s right, deny it. Deny that you could ever enjoy killing somebody.

That won’t make it go away though.

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