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Monday, July 23, 2007

LING-SHAN

I don’t think it’s easy to clearly interpret the thoughts of Gao Xingjian in the book “Ling Shan” or “Soul Mountain”. I am not still clear (or rather not smart enough to understand) on what the book is exactly about. With a certain level of haziness in my interpretation of this work, let me try my bit to explain what the book is about. I am not sure if I am correct.

It is presented through the author’s journey to the mountains and in this process, it deals with the multiplicity, divinity and beauty of Chinese culture. It is a story of a man’s quest for inner peace and freedom. And he derives all these through his magnificent journey. He tries to understand the individual’s place in nature. The Buddhist and Daoist institutions, he comes across, helps him to understand all these things better. He admires a myriad range of people whom he visits during the course of his soulful journey – a recluse forest ranger, solitary Buddhist monk and a doctor and others, but still he realizes that he is not meant to be one of those.

While one part of the story is exploring the Chinese culture, a parallel context is drawn to understand the various forms of human relationships and the impact it has on an individual. There is a tone of acute loneliness and intense retrospection. The author engages in intimate conversations with anonymous people who are introduced to the reader as “she”. Perhaps he wants to give a picture of the nature of women as well. And at times, the tone of the novel gets quite bold with very intimate relationship and soulful discussions with “she”. And “she” is not unique. (I am still not very clear on this part)

The tone of the novel is influenced by the fact that the author had a close tryst with death. He was once wrongly diagnosed with lung cancer and had already resigned himself to death. When he realized that it was not his end, he decided to move to Sichuan province and wandered along Yangtze River. (Although there was some political angle, which had influenced his decision to flee Beijing). By the time he returned to Beijing he had already traveled for 10 months over 15000 kilometers of China. Thus the novel also bears a kind of autobiographical approach, painted with the brushes of an archeologist and an historian.
This book is extremely rich and pictures Chinese history and culture through the eyes of a traveler. But it takes time to read this book and derive the interpretations. Don’t miss it if you love China

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

looks like u've taken to books v.furiously..Good for u. Are u fond of popular fiction as well or u read relatively obscure literature?-k.m

SABYASACHI said...

got to the habit of reading very late...but i personally like books which can make me think...

Anonymous said...

very well.I too acquired it relatively late-k.m

Anonymous said...

well.. looks like u enjoy reading philosophy since u love to think.. would suggest u to read Mitch Albom.. somehow have the feeling u'll love what he writes....

SABYASACHI said...

will definitely get hold of his writings....thanx....