Samurai William

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In Giles Milton’s novel, Samurai William, the reader is taken to the other side of the globe to experience the history of old world Japan. Though out the book, Milton provides reason for complex historical events and actions, while still communicating the subtleties and mysterious customs of the Japanese. The novel also closely examines the wide range of relationships between different groups of Europeans and Asians, predominantly revolving around the protagonist, William Adams. The book documents the successes and failures that occur between the two civilizations, then links them back to either the positive or negative relationship they have. As the book goes on, the correlation is obvious. Milton shows us the extreme role that religion, etiquette and trade played in establishing positive relations between visiting Europeans and the Asian civilizations. Religion and traditions played a chief role in the Europeans relationships in Asia all throughout the novel. Milton puts an incredible weight on the shoulders of religion on both sides of the civilisations. The book dives right into explaining the fascination and disgust felt by European priests and Jesuits towards the Japanese monks. They carried rosaries like the Catholics and “in old age, many retired to Buddhist monasteries to live the rest of their days in prayer and contemplation”. The Buddhist All-Souls Day consisted of the ceremonial sprinkling of graves with flower petals. All of this appealed to the Catholic Jesuits, no doubt, as it was reflective of many forms of Christianity. It was also appealing because many were “convinced that Japan would prove fertile territory” for converting because of the similarities. However, it was the negative aspects such as of sodomy, crucifixion, and complete lack of charity and care for the sick that seemed to fuel the mission of the Jesuits. (The relationship between the Catholics and Protestants must also be noted here. The battling religions came to a head in

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