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Soul Mountain

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3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,042 Ratings  ·  353 Reviews
In 1983, Chinese playwright, critic, fiction writer, and painter Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced imminent death. But 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 January 1st 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tia
May 20, 2007 Tia rated it it was amazing
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
Corinne
Jan 05, 2016 Corinne rated it it was amazing
A powerful spiritual experience, coming from an author still alive!!

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the author took refuge in France, was living in an inner city project housing at the time he got the Nobel Prize.

A deeply enriching story of his journey, which is at the same time entertaining. A powerful combination of depth and lightness. I haven't come across a chronicle of journey like this for a long time. It fits so well with his Nobel Prize speech, in wisdom and modesty.
Owlseyes
Feb 19, 2016 Owlseyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chin-lit

25th of February 2013.
I cannot help,but to refer these news:"Chinese Officials Admit 'Cancer Villages' Due To Pollution Exist"*.

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




(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 Xingjian is a writer and painter
...more
Linh
Aug 30, 2013 Linh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Hadrian
Nov 16, 2015 Hadrian rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, travel, chinese
I could have enjoyed this book very much. Spiritual journeys, fragmented writing style, interlocking narratives, historical references and the unfolding changes of history. Unfortunately, the more I know about Chinese, the more I think this translation could have used a bit of work. There are references to 'father' here which I think could be 老子, which refers to Laozi, author of the Dao De Jing. I even recognized a few mangled 成语, or idiomatic expressions.

One of these days I may have to read th
...more
Nick Wellings
Mar 28, 2013 Nick Wellings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
linhtalinhtinh
Aug 12, 2013 linhtalinhtinh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-lit
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
Alison
Sep 07, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it
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’d like to start with a view that dissents with those of some other reviewers, who (in praise, often) claim that this book works outside the rules of fiction, or is unlike all other books, or isn’t even a novel. Of course it is a novel, and a hyperliterary one at that–and it operates within structures of fictional form that are common (even commonplace) in the twentieth century, not to mention in earlier works that share some of its more astonishing features (such as Don Quixote). And Gao got a ...more
Karl
Jan 07, 2014 Karl rated it really liked it
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
Jessica
Feb 04, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
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 did not like it  ·  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
Aug 01, 2015 Jonfaith rated it liked it
Shelves: sino-sized
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
Mostafa
Apr 18, 2016 Mostafa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب شرح سفر نویسنده برای پیدا کردن کوهسارجان است
در طی سفر نویسنده(راوی) درباره حالات و احوالات خود مینویسد، به خودکاوی میپردازد، و از داستانهایی که شنیده و میبیند و داستانهایی که با افراد مختلف(اغلب زنان) برایش پیش می آید مینویسد... و در کل درباره زندگی مینوسد
شخصیتها شامل من، تو، او؛ به نوعی گفتگوی نویسنده با خود درونیشه، من به عنوان شخص حاضر، تو به عنوان خود درونی راوی و او به عنوان ناظر... میشه گفت که یه سفرنامه عرفانیه که نویسنده طی اون به بررسی اوضاع جامعه و کشور میپردازه و جهان بینی خودش ر
...more
Oscar
Nov 02, 2012 Oscar rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Lauren
Nov 23, 2011 Lauren rated it it was ok
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
Milo Russell
Mar 03, 2008 Milo Russell rated it really liked it
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
Lisa
Aug 28, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone wanting a new way of looking at fiction
Recommended to Lisa 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
Ethan Cramer-Flood
Aug 03, 2009 Ethan Cramer-Flood rated it it was amazing
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
Sara
Mar 21, 2008 Sara rated it it was ok
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.
Kyle Muntz
Dec 22, 2015 Kyle Muntz rated it really liked it
A really impressive, richly written novel that blends together a travel narrative with formal complexity and lots of fascinating meditations on history, myth, selfhood, etc. Oddly, I think I'm only going to read 200 pages of it, but I still liked it a lot--it's just there's not a lot of narrative or character progression here and after 200 pages I felt like I'd gotten enough out of it. That's an odd thing to say but I'd still recommend this book to anyone who was interested in it, and it's possi ...more
David
Aug 22, 2015 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern, translations
I was both excited by the proposition of a Chinese Nobel laureate and fascinated by Xingjian's personal trials when I chose to read his semi-autobiographical novel. As a pretext, I knew that Xingjian had dealt with being misdiagnosed with terminal cancer and gone soul searching through provincial China before publishing this work for which he was exiled from China and for which the Chinese government banned the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Despite my initial excitement, I'll admit to having been di
...more
Kate
Jul 17, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Persephone Abbott
Apr 07, 2012 Persephone Abbott rated it it was amazing
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
Huyen Le
Feb 05, 2012 Huyen Le rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nobel
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
Lee Mavin
Jan 17, 2016 Lee Mavin rated it it was amazing
Gao Xingjians novel Soul Mountain is comparable to Murakamis Wind Up Bird chronical as it contains multiple narratives. It is almost three stories in one that link up cleverly.

It is more a spiritual journey, political and social commentary and a dicection of modern languange than anything else. It may be important to consider the english translation and the impact the translator has on the meaning.

I will endeavor to interview the translator of this novel to delve deeper into the story. Did she p
...more
Horace Derwent
May 20, 2016 Horace Derwent rated it it was amazing
It throes me

I can get purified from reading it and obtain more from it whenever I scatter my eyes on and imprint my fingers in the pages, so why don't you give it a shot?

What a beautifully written book of a mastermind, and it's still being banned in Chinkland for sure, it throes me too
Shweta Ganesh Kumar
Jun 03, 2016 Shweta Ganesh Kumar rated it liked it
It's like walking through someone's fever dreams - part delirium, part reality. Intertwined and fantastical.
It is also a fly on the wall look at the evolution of a relationship from the quickening of the heart beat to the open sharing, to the jealousies of each other's past.
It is also an insider's look at China's villages and the ignominious dying out of diverse folk songs and traditions.
Lovely in parts, it also meanders quite a lot and drags a bit in the middle.
Charity
Sep 16, 2015 Charity rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-uns, blah
Beautiful writing, but I never could get very involved in the stories, perhaps due to the constant change in perspective in the narration.
Yann
Jul 20, 2011 Yann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chine, fiction
Et moi qui pensait ne pas aimer le nouveau roman, je l'avais dévoré.
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A book demands contemplation 1 12 Dec 13, 2013 04:24PM  
Beijing CS Book Club: Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian 1 14 Dec 19, 2011 06:38AM  
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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...

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“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.” 40 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.” 13 likes
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