Soul Mountain
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Soul Mountain

by
3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  2,314 ratings  ·  290 reviews
In 1983, Chinese playwright, critic, fiction writer, and painter Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced imminent death.B ut six weeks later, a second examination revealed there was no cancer -- he had won "a second reprieve from death." Faced with a repressive cultural environment and the threat of a spell in a prison farm, Gao fled Beijing and began a journ...more
Paperback, 510 pages
Published October 23rd 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published 1990)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe Good Earth by Pearl S. BuckThe Joy Luck Club by Amy TanShanghai Girls by Lisa SeeThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
Best Novels That Take Place in China
33rd out of 241 books — 680 voters
Wild Swans by Jung ChangThe Good Earth by Pearl S. BuckSnow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe Joy Luck Club by Amy TanBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Best Books About China
22nd out of 384 books — 298 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Tia
May 20, 2007 Tia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the patient, who are constantly looking for...something
This is barely a book. It's the at once epic and intimate journey of one man, told in different persons and with feelings sometimes instead of words (somehow), almost miraculously bound together and made tangible.

I am prone to exaggeration. But I have such specific remembrances--memories of feelings and moments of hyper-awareness--tied to this book.... For all the incredible books I have come across so far, NONE of them gave me what this book did. None of them made me so viscerally part of their...more
Nick Wellings

What is it with mountains? Be they Bare, Magic or Soulful like this, they exert a pull on the soul and they move men to poetry.

Equating height with Homeric majesty, Keats stood his Cortez silent upon a peak in Darien, to tug his conquistador’s soul towards some higher sublimity. Where Christianity has the abode of God and attendant angels reposing in the celestial crenelations of cumulonimbus and nimbostratus, Homer – grounded realist that he was, had his on semi-earthly Olympus. Not for nothin...more
Alison
May 30, 2014 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with previous experience with metafiction who are slightly scared of pandas.
Recommended to Alison by: I picked it up off the street.
I've moved my review here:

http://goodbyegoodreads.blogspot.com/...

Thanks!
Linh
Cao Hành Kiện và Linh sơn


Cái đẹp và sự thương cảm - đó là định nghĩa chính xác nhất về nghệ thuật.
(Nabokov)

1. Cao Hành Kiện

Lời cảm tạ của Cao Hành Kiện (với quốc vương Thuỵ Điển tại lễ trao giải Nobel văn học 2000):

“Quốc vương bệ hạ tôn kính,

Con người đang đứng trước mặt ngài hãy còn nhớ, anh ta hồi tám tuổi, bà mẹ bảo viết nhật ký, anh ta đã viết như thế này, và cứ viết mãi cho đến lúc trưởng thành.

Anh ta cũng còn nhớ, khi vào trường trung học, thầy giáo dạy tập làm văn treo lên bảng m...more
linhtalinhtinh
Tôi thú thật rằng mình chả phải là người có kiến thức và giỏi cảm thụ "văn học-văn học". Tôi chỉ hay đọc "truyện" là chính. Tôi không có tí kiến thức nào về các lý thuyết văn chương, chứ đừng nói tới việc định tranh cãi xem thủ pháp nghệ thuật, hình thức tác phẩm của Cao Hành Kiện trong Linh Sơn ra làm sao. Vậy nên xin miễn cho việc bàn về sự "đột phá" (nếu có) của tác phẩm.

Ấy nhưng quái lạ làm sao, đôi khi có những tác phẩm tôi không hiểu được hết nhưng vẫn cứ say mê đọc.

Linh Sơn là một chuyến...more
José-contemplates-Saturn's Aurora
25th of February 2013;cannot help,but to refer these news:"Chinese Officials Admit 'Cancer Villages' Due To Pollution Exist"*.

http://www.ibtimes.com/chinese-offici...
---------------------------



(above,Buddha Sakyamuni and Mahakayapa)


Preamble

Lingshaw means Soul Mountain.

In this book there's an enlightening preface by Noël Dutrait referring that, in China, "in the end of the 1970's there was a timid political liberalization", therefore allowing writers not to serve the (communist) party. Gao Xin...more
Jessica
Update: What an amazing book. I truly have never read anything like it, and I found some of the observations and insights to be thrilling. Oddly, I found myself enraptured by the descriptions of the Chinese landscapes more than anything else. There is much to be awed by--fables, stories-within-stories, heartbreaking recollections of the Cultural Revolution--but it was the lengthy passages about China's mountains, forests and (increasingly polluted) rivers that kept me reading more than anything...more
Dana
Jan 10, 2009 Dana rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one I know
Recommended to Dana by: No one, It was a gift
This book won a Nobel for liturature but, I have to admit it was a strugle for me to get through. It is over 500 pages and I have NEVER been so glad to be done with a book.
The author frequently refers to China's many Dynastys and The Culturol Revolution ( a very sad time for the people of China and their culture. ) Perhaps if I was more familiar with the history of China and the culture I may have enjoyed the book.Perhaps something was lost in translation ? Much of it was very metaphysical, phy...more
Jonfaith
Context is important. I was newly married and jumping through all sorts of bureaucratic hoops. I found a stack of copies of this novel remaindered. I bought them all. I mailed one to my wife and gave the others way. I then read this in tandem with a friend who was being chucked out of his house. Oh, it wasn't a foreclosure. He was leaving his wife, though sooner than he expected, obviously. I then began dogpaddling through this morass of a novel rife with nature and strange sex. It didn't reach...more
Milo Russell
Soul Mountain is one of those works that in it's native culture and language is a rather conventional piece whose virtues lie chiefly in it's substance rather than any exotic formal philosophy, but in English becomes completely insane. An example of the wonderful things the Chinese have done with S.O.C. novels, the book is constructed without any named foreground characters, using pronouns to differentiate it's cast. The book starts out with "you," eventually introducing a "she," a "he" and then...more
Karl
1. I read it in Chinese and sort of understand where is Gao coming from. After had suffered personally the catastrophes of ten years Cultural Revolution and witnessed the destruction of traditional values, especially the metaphysical dimension of the Chinese culture under the Communist Regime, Gao wishes to paint again or recapture the original beauty of the tradition, which is inseparable from the mystical and even whimsical layers of the reality perceived by the local people who possess rather...more
Ethan Cramer-Flood
Gao Xingjian is the first, and only, Chinese author to win the Nobel prize for literature, which he won in 2000. He's primarily a playwright, but he's written a couple of novels, and Soul Mountain was mentioned by the Nobel committee as his magnum opus and the primary cause for the award. Thus, if my quest is to explore Chinese fiction before my move, this is an obvious pick.

In the early 1980s Gao -- who was already a semi-renowned literary figure and theater director in the underground art scen...more
Lauren
This book is long, incomprehensible, and downright annoying for me. Yet, it won the Nobel prize for literature in 2000. So in other words, if you read it for your own intellectual advancement, it’s fantastic. If not, well, you may just want to find another book.

Essentially, what makes the book frustrating is that it is not consistent or logical in any imaginable way. It doesn’t have any main characters. Instead, Gao Xingjian refers to his main characters simply as I, You, He, and She. When the

...more
Persephone Abbott
One can argue that Gao Xingjian wrote this novel for a Chinese speaking public, and a specific public who is versed in Classical Chinese Literature forms. To quote Wikipedia “Whether it works or not, it (Soul Mountain) is a rich fictional language filled with vernacular speeches and elegant 文言 (classical) formulations as well as dialects, thus constituting a "heteroglossic" tapestry of sounds and rhythms that can indeed be read aloud (as Gao himself has done in his public readings).” Leo Lee Ou-...more
Oscar
This was a difficult book to read. Not because I found Xingjian's writing style too disjointed or because I thought it was too dense, but because his gaze never seemed to swerve far away from his own navel. In the beginning the book seemed very promising but as I continued it read more and more like the recounting of a long and stupid dream.

Xingjian's preoccupation with himself reaches the point that when one character has the temerity to impose on his splendid isolation with a story of her own...more
L
Aug 28, 2008 L rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting a new way of looking at fiction
Recommended to L by: someone on cafe mom, I forgot who
This book can only be described as wonderfully unusual, outside the realm of the traditional work of fiction. I imagine that the book could almost be considered a memoir because the narrator has a lot of the author's same experiences.(as provided in a short introduction)My first reaction was that this book was very artistic in it's writing. The narrator seems to paint the setting in the readers mind with his descriptions while setting the mood with words so immersed in his own mood that I couldn...more
Gathienology
Đây là review của Vũ Hoàng Linh:

Nhớ khi mua và bắt đầu đọc Linh Sơn ở Việt Nam, thấy rất thích, bạn bèn nhắn SMS cho một số người: “Ấy/cậu/em đọc Linh Sơn chưa. Tớ/anh đang đọc đấy. Hay lắm”. Thế nhưng, cũng phải sau hai tháng, bạn mới đọc xong được cuốn sách có độ dày hơn 600 trang này, trong buổi tối cuối cùng của năm Tuất.

Có thể nói gì về Linh Sơn và Cao Hành Kiện? Bạn cảm thấy khó nhận xét về cuốn sách đó. Ngoại trừ bạn cảm giác đó là một cuốn sách rất đẹp, hơn nữa, như lời của Hội đồng tr...more
طاهر الزهراني
بصراحة حاولت الولوج إلى أجواء الرواية وأحداثها، إلا أن هناك عائقاً يمنعني أن أتماهى مع الرواية، وكأن الرواية كتبت بلغة تستعصي على المترجم، التقنية السردية في الرواية تعتمد على ضمير المخاطب، والذي يستفزنا في كل صفحة، لتدرك أن هناك من يوجه له السرد، وأعتقد أن العمل خذلته اللغة، والربط، وأظن هذا يرجع إلى إشكالية في ترجمة أي عمل كتب باللغة الصينية ثم ترجم بعد ذلك..
لهذا لا أستطيع أن أقيم هذا الكتاب..
وربما يستدرك ناشر آخر هذا المأزق ويراعي بعض الأمور التي قد تنقل لنا لغة هذا العمل إلى لغة بسيطة سلسلة...more
Sara
I feel decidedly guilty and 'unliterary' giving a negative review of this book, but it just was not for me. It's a meditation on identity, and his writing is certainly innovative and probably the best way to explore the subject, but it made the book a long slog for me. The fact that someone talks about a woman being raped nearly every chapter (of which there are 80) was also something that made this read a difficult one for me. Glad I read it, glad it's over.
Yann
Et moi qui pensait ne pas aimer le nouveau roman, je l'avais dévoré.
Kate
Jul 17, 2009 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
First, let me say, this is NOT an easy read. Second, I would not have enjoyed this book had I not read this book during a course I was taking at a Humanities college (so I had help with its interpretation).

That being said, it is a 5* book all the way.

What is challenging, is it is a book in which the narrator starts off auto-biographically telling his life story emerging from post-Cultural Revolution China in the early 80s with a life threatening cancer and threat of imprisonment. When his diagn...more
Chad Bearden
I can easily appreciate how beautiful a piece of literature "Soul Mountain" is while still admitting that it really isn't my cup of tea. It would be very easy to dismiss it outright (as several of the below reviews demonstrate) for its nonlinear format, its erratic dreamlike narrative, its fractured experimentation with various formats. But as daunting a task that making my way through all 500 pages seemed after the surprise of the first few chapters, at no point did Gao Xingjian completely lose...more
Stephen Gallup
Apr 18, 2009 Stephen Gallup is currently reading it
I'm likely to be a long time reading this tome.

As far as I know, no other readrs have commented on the dreamlike, or even Kafkaesque, quality that some passages have, such as:

May I walk with you? Again, this is really a stupid thing to say.
You're really a funny person, you seem to hear her mumbling. She looks reproachful and yet approving. However you can tell she's trying to look cheerful...


Thus far in my progress, the above is about as dramatic as any passages get. The rest are detached sum...more
Aaron Records
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
Philosophy horror? A haunting combination. Soul Mountain's dark ambiguity chews you up and spits you out. There's no linear direction or plot in the book, which means that there's no telling what kind of adventure or emotional struggle you or the author will end up in next (yes, the author writes about himself and you- you are a part of the book!) In that respect it's a very subjective, artistic book. I think of each of the chapters as paintings, or separate works in a gallery with an underlying...more
Nikki
If I were to rate this on sheer personal enjoyment I'd have to give it 1 star, 2 at the most. But if I were to rate it on brilliance, ingenuity, and epic depth of human understanding then it would deserve a 5. So I'm splitting the difference.

It's smart and lovely and deeply introspective and philosophical and makes great use of metaphor... but as someone who is literal minded and only grasps the basics of philosophy, much of this was lost on me. That didn't prevent me from taking note of over fi...more
Paul
This weekend I had the chance to pick up yet another used copy of this book. I Was asked when I heard of it. And the story is something like this: While I was driving a tractor trailer cross country, I usually stopped by the public library on my way out of town. Looking at roughly 200 hours behind the wheel before returning home, I would gather as many long audio books as I could find. Most anything that was unabridged was perfect. Of course, they also had to hold my interest...and this looked t...more
Carlos Bennett
3,8 estrelllas. Básicamente se trata de un hombre que, después de un diagnóstico errado de cancer, decide hacer una especie de viaje espiritual a una región remota de China (Linghsan, la famosa "Montaña del alma"). Durante este viaje conocera a un monton de personajes secundarios (la gran mayoria son muy secundarios, aparecen solo por un par de paginas), que se dedicaran a contarle un sin numero de historias breves del folklor local. Otras veces es el mismo protagonista el que cuenta estas histo...more
The Frahorus
Non so proprio come definire quest'opera... C'è un pò di tutto, soprattutto la vita dell'autore che si amalgama ai suoi viaggi veri e fantastici, alle sue esperienze d'amore e di amicizia... Pesante, molto dura la sua fuga dalla Rivoluzione Culturale, dove si bruciavano libri antichi e si distruggevano le usanze, le religioni, i templi e si scacciavano i monaci... e i letterati! Amici, potrei citare centinaia di bellissimi passaggi di questo straordinario libro, scritto con una ricercatezza poet...more
Leslie
At the heart of this sprawling book full of wandering (in style, narrative, genre, geography, emotion, psychology, history, modern China at a time of great change) is one central concern: are we most ourselves when we live as single individuals in communion with ourselves or as part of a larger community? When we are alone, we ache with loneliness and look with longing at others and to the past (personal and national) for connection, feeling ourselves fragment and distort in our isolation; when...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
A book demands contemplation 1 5 Dec 13, 2013 04:24PM  
Beijing CS Book Club: Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian 1 12 Dec 19, 2011 06:38AM  
  • The True Story of Ah Q
  • Red Sorghum
  • Brothers
  • The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1: The Golden Days
  • Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas
  • A Dictionary of Maqiao
  • Beijing Coma
  • The Search for Modern China
  • The Vagrants
  • Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China
  • Six Records of a Floating Life
25708
Gao Xingjian is a Chinese-born novelist, playwright, critic, and painter. An émigré to France since 1987, Gao was granted French citizenship in 1997. The recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature, he is also a noted translator (particularly of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco), screenwriter, stage director, and a celebrated painter.
More about Gao Xingjian...
One Man's Bible Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather The Other Shore: Plays by Gao Xingjian The Case for Literature The Bus Stop

Share This Book

“You should know that there is little you can seek in this world, that there is no need for you to be so greedy, in the end all you can achieve are memories, hazy, intangible, dreamlike memories which are impossible to articulate. When you try to relate them, there are only sentences, the dregs left from the filter of linguistic structures.” 27 likes
“Young man, nature is not frightening, it's people who are frightening! You just need to get to know nature and it will become friendly. This creature known as man is of course highly intelligent, he's capable of manufacturing almost anything from rumours to test-tube babies and yet he destroys two to three species every day. This is the absurdity of man.” 8 likes
More quotes…