We’ve had this book on a bookshelf for many years. My husband liked it but wasn’t wowed and I had a bad image of it due to the plagiarism accusation that came out after Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002. When the movie came out last year we did go see it and I enjoyed it. It also made me curious about the book, so in the past week I finally got around to reading it.
I just couldn’t put it down. I liked the plot. I liked the description of life in India. Since I had travelled a bit in India, I could really picture that part. I liked the reflections on family life, religion, survival, and particular, fear.
Chapter 56 is a 2-page chapter where the narrator explores the nature of fear. Fear defeats reason, takes over your body, robs you of your senses, makes you take rash decisions, and triumphs over hope and trust. Fear, even when you think you have overcome it, hides and comes back to rot everything.
What the story shows us is that fear can be ultimately overcome, which much effort and suffering, and one can live life to the fullest.
For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face to your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you. (p. 179)
Now I’d like to see the movie again to compare to the book.
Martel, Yann, Life of Pi, Vintage Canada, 2001.