Soul Mountain

by Gao Xingjian | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0060936231 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Tinkaday of Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on 10/5/2006
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Tinkaday from Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on Thursday, October 05, 2006
This book was just given to me by one of my book club chicks. (Thanks Mel) I'm hoping to send it off to see the world.
As one of Gao Xingjian's characters remarks, if a fiction writer could know the true stories of the people he passes on the street, he would be amazed. Surely the Nobel laureate's own story, which forms the basis of Soul Mountain, is worthy of amazement. In 1983 Gao was diagnosed with lung cancer, the disease that had killed his father. At the same time, he had been threatened with arrest for his counterrevolutionary writings and was preparing to flee Beijing for the remote regions of southwest China. Shortly before his departure, however, the condemned man got at least a partial reprieve: a second set of x-rays revealed no cancer at all. On the heels of this extraordinary redemption, he began the circuitous journey that would lead him to the sacred (and possibly mythical) mountain of Lingshan--and to this daring, historically resonant novel.
A destination chosen arbitrarily, at the suggestion of a fellow traveler, the elusive Lingshan becomes rich with meaning for the narrator of Soul Mountain. Meanwhile, the narrator himself shows a tendency to go forth and multiply. First he divides into You and I. Then You generates yet a third voice, a somewhat simple but intense young woman named She, followed by He--and none of these personae can resist the elemental lure of the sacred site. Indeed, the search for Lingshan becomes a metaphor for all spiritual striving:

Would it be better to go along the main road? It will take longer travelling by the main road? After making some detours you will understand in your heart? Once you understand in your heart you will find it as soon as you look for it? The important thing is to be sincere of heart? If your heart is sincere then your wish will be granted?
Along the way, I and You mourn the devastations of the Cultural Revolution, when thousands of monuments, temples, and graves were reduced to rubble. The obliteration of these reminders of the dead becomes a torment to the narrators of the novel, who struggle to assert their individuality--itself a proscribed act in Communist China--against what they see as a false and brutal ideal that has swept away history, literature, and tradition as decisively as it has destroyed the ancient forests. (At one point Gao describes the sad spectacle of the few remaining pandas, who wander a shrinking woodland wearing electronic transmitters.) Seamlessly translated by the Australian scholar Mabel Lee, Soul Mountain is a masterpiece of self-observation set against a soulful denunciation of "progress" and practicality. --Regina Marler

Journal Entry 2 by Tinkaday from Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on Monday, December 04, 2006
I'm sending the book off as a bookray to see the world.

1. legbamel (ND)
2. AlterEgoZoe (PA)
3. PaulsBooks
4. WingedMan (KY)
5. Bibliovore (Quebec, Canada)
6. boirina (Portugal)
7. Ftarazu (Portugal)
8. Durham (Australia)
9. samulli (Germany)
10. elis-fromSweden (Sweden)

Happy travels!

Journal Entry 3 by legbamel from Fargo, North Dakota USA on Monday, December 11, 2006
I got this in the mail Saturday and finished my current read a few minutes ago, so this one is up starting this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it, and will soon have it on its way!

UPDATE: 12/22/06
While I quite like this book, it has been very slow going for me. Reading this book is like laying back in a boat in a lake, drifting with the tiny bit of current. The lake isn't particularly beautiful, nor are you especially comfortable, but you're relaxed enough to not want to make any changes. So you drift along, catching glimpses of the slightly scrubby shore over the edge and watching the sky ever-so-slowly change colors. You're hungry but it's too much trouble to move. That's how this book makes me feel - for the first two hundred pages I felt like I'd been reading for a month and hadn't actually made any progress. I'm nearing the end now, and it's starting to feel like an acquaintance that I don't particularly like but keep running into telling me stories that are just a little distasteful or disturbing. It's hard to believe that he's going to stop. I had to add that Chapter 72 was my favorite, especially the last sentence. ;) I'll PM AlterEgoZoe for an address and hopefully will have it on its way by the 1st of the year. (Edited to add that I'm a little too pokey for that but it's one its way now.) Thanks!

Released 12 yrs ago (1/8/2007 UTC) at controlled release in controlled release, a controlled release -- Controlled Releases



Off to its next reader.

Journal Entry 5 by AlterEgoZoe from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania USA on Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Got this today. I'll have to PM legbamel (postcard from Tinkaday to you was left in the book!!). I'll try to start the book today. :)

Journal Entry 6 by AlterEgoZoe from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania USA on Thursday, January 18, 2007
I just couldn't get into the feel of the book, it was way too slow for me. Thanks Tink for sharing and I'll try to get an address from Paulsbooks

Released 12 yrs ago (1/27/2007 UTC) at media mail in sent to another bookcrosser, Book Relay -- Controlled Releases




Journal Entry 8 by tostle from Salt Lake City, Utah USA on Sunday, February 11, 2007
(aka PaulsBooks)
Thanks for the book! I'll start soon...(although I must say I'm a bit disheartened by the reviews!)

Journal Entry 9 by tostle from Salt Lake City, Utah USA on Monday, March 19, 2007
The imagery in this book is incredible.
"The sun turns a dark red, gentler, and projects brilliant gold reflections onto the entire bend of the river: the dark blue of the water fusing with the dazzling sunlight throbs and pulsates. As the red sphere seats itself in the valley it becomes serene, awesomely beautiful, and there are sounds."
This is a beautiful book. Thank you for sharing.
I'm sending it on to wingedman!

Journal Entry 10 by wingrem_NON-938592wing on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Arrived safely. I'm in the middle of one, have another one waiting and then will begin this one. Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 11 by wingrem_NON-938592wing on Monday, April 09, 2007
I had some unexpected things come up and haven't even made it half way into this book yet. It seems like a really good one, but I don't want to keep others waiting so I think I'll go on and pass it on. Maybe I'll pick up a copy of this sometime and finish it. Thanks for the chance to read it.

Released 12 yrs ago (4/9/2007 UTC) at another bookcrossing member in by mail, a fellow bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases



Sending to Bibliovore

Journal Entry 13 by Bibliovore on Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It came in today by mail. Thanks to all those involved. Nice ex-libris :-)


To feel humbled by a book... I couln’t stop reading it, despite the obvious difficulty. I was struck by the sincerity of this author’s voice, but also by his ability to call up so many vivid images, so many subtle moods. This is a unique glimpse at a China we don’t know: violent, superstitious, beautifull. I strongly recommend it, but don’t rush it. Don’t try too hard to understand. It is very much like an abstract painting, made to be gazed at and not interpreted. I’ll be looking for French translations of Gao Xingjian. This Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres must have had his say about them.

Journal Entry 14 by boirina from Calvià, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Monday, July 16, 2007
The book got here safely today.

Thanks for sharing it!

Journal Entry 15 by boirina from Calvià, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Friday, August 17, 2007
I couldn''t finish it. I''d like to try again, but I think that maybe I should try reading it in Spanish or Catalan. Sometimes certain books are best read in one''s first language.

The book left for Ftarazu yesterday. :)

Journal Entry 16 by Ftarazu from Ovar, Aveiro Portugal on Monday, August 20, 2007
Was on my mailbox today. I see that most people found the book slow. I hope to enjoy it!

Journal Entry 17 by Ftarazu from Ovar, Aveiro Portugal on Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I don’t really know what to say about this book. It is indeed very slow and you fell like you are going with the flow…. I enjoyed reading about old traditions and old folklore costumes from China but at some point I didn’t really know what was true and what was author’s imagination. Because he made up some characters you never know if those things that he describes happened or were all in his mind. I didn’t like that. And some parts were way to describing and I admit I had to skip some chapters.
In the end, I can say that I enjoyed getting to know this author…
The book will be sent as soon as I have an address.

Journal Entry 18 by Ftarazu at Porto, Porto Portugal on Sunday, December 14, 2014

Released 4 yrs ago (12/12/2014 UTC) at Porto, Porto Portugal


Sent for my Intl secret Santa buddy.
Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 19 by redfox5 at Sandhurst, Berkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, December 25, 2014
Thank you secret Santa! Doesn't look like the other readers have made had much luck with this one. Hopefully I will have more luck, it sounds like something I would like from the back :)

Journal Entry 20 by redfox5 at Camberley, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, January 13, 2019
When a book has won a certain type of award, in this case 'The Nobel Prize For Literature'. I can't help but feel a bit of apprehension. Generally this means that the book is all about technique, rather than plot and I'm not going to understand it or find it enjoyable. I feel the same when a film has won an Oscar, usually means I should avoid it.

Soul Mountain confirms to all the above stereotypes. I found it very confusing. I wasn't sure what was real or completely made up by the author. Sometimes the book seemed to flow nicely and then it would change completely, leaving me completely lost.

It's a shame as their were a few great chapters in here but they were just lost among the other rubbish. I did like though, that he wrote a chapter where a critic read what he had written so far. The critic summed up my feelings on this book perfectly.

I also found woman were not portrayed great in this book. They seemed only to be there to be raped or they were crazy.

I felt like I was reading this forever, there were a couple of times were I thought about putting it down but I had already gone so far, so decided to solider on. I wouldn't recommend this.

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