: Life of pi () : Yann Martel : Books
  Login | Register En  |  Fr
Antoine Online

Life Of Pi

by Yann Martel
Our price: LBP 21,000Unavailable
*Contact us to request a special order. Price may vary.
Add to my wishlist

Product Details

  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Publishing date: 2002
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0676973779


Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel -- known as Pi -- has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions -- Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest of travelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal.

As the days pass, Pi fights both boredom and terror by throwing himself into the practical details of surviving on the open sea -- catching fish, collecting rain water, protecting himself from the sun -- all the while ensuring that the tiger is also kept alive, and knows that Pi is the key to his survival. The castaways face gruelling pain in their brushes with starvation, illness, and the storms that lash the small boat, but there is also the solace of beauty: the rainbow hues of a dorado’s death-throes, the peaceful eye of a looming whale, the shimmering blues of the ocean’s swells. Hope is fleeting, however, and despite adapting his religious practices to his daily routine, Pi feels the constant, pressing weight of despair. It is during the most hopeless and gruelling days of his voyage that Pi whittles to the core of his beliefs, casts off his own assumptions, and faces his underlying terrors head-on.

As Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.” And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. “God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material -- any greater pattern of meaning.” In Life of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and centre from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.

In just a few easy steps below, you can become an online reviewer.
You'll be able to make changes before you submit your review.

  • It's a wonderful life...of Pi
    From Amazon

    The Life of Pi is a most unusual coming-of-age story that begins with our hero and narrator, Pi Patel, recounting his discovery and acceptance of both Christianity and Islam....on top of the Hindu faith of his family!

    In Part Two, entitled "The Pacific Ocean", Martel almost sadistically strips his character of all but the basic necessities of life and has him share a lifeboat with an adult Bengal tiger. This amazing odyssey tugs at our sense of incredulity, yet Martel offers enough morsels of verisimilitude to suspend disbelief.

  • A Mirror Held Up to the Reader
    From Amazon

    Life of Pi was a fairly engaging story in terms of plot and character, but what made it such a memorable book, for me at least, was its thematic concerns. Basically, this is one of the most thematically interesting and thought-provoking books I've read in a while. Is it a "story that will make you believe in God," as Pi claims? I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I would say that most people who enjoy thinking about the nature of reality and the possibility of God would find this a compelling read.

    To me, the entire thrust of the book [SPOILER ALERT] is aimed at the idea that reality is a story, and therefore we can choose our own story (as the author himself put it). So if life is a story, that leaves us two basic choices: we can limit ourselves only to what we can know for sure - that is, to "dry, yeastless factuality" - or we can choose "the better story."

    I suppose in Pi's world the "better story" includes God, but he doesn't suggest that this is the only meaningful possibility. In fact, Pi calls atheists his "brothers and sisters of a different faith," because, like Pi, atheists "go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap." Pi's point, in my opinion, isn't that you must believe in God to be happy (even though Pi clearly finds peace in his beliefs); rather, the important thing is that you make a choice to bring meaning and richness to your life, that you look beyond the brutal realities of pure fact and find a better reality, that you exercise faith and strive for ideals (whatever the object of your faith and whatever those ideals might be ). Or as Pi himself puts it: "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

    In the end, I didn't necessarily read this book as an invitation to believe in God, but rather as a mirror held up to the reader, a test to see what kind of world view the reader holds. [SPOILER ALERT] That is, as Pi himself says, since "it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without the animals?" Or, as I took it: Is it my nature to reach for and believe the better but less likely story? Or do I tend to believe the more likely but less lovely story? What view of reality do I adhere to? Is it the best reality for me, the kind of reality that makes life worthwhile? Interesting questions.

    Another equally important question is this: How did I come by my view of reality? Do I view the world through the lens of reason? Or do I view it through the lens of emotion? For Pi, I think it's safe to say his belief comes by way of emotion. He has, as one reviewer noted, a certain scepticism about reason (in fact, Pi calls it "fool's gold for the bright"). Pi also has what I would call a subtle but real basis for his belief in God, namely, "an intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose." But belief still isn't easy for him. Despite his trusting sense of purpose, Pi emphatically states as follows: "Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer." So it's not that a life of faith is easier, in Pi's opinion - it's that for him belief is ultimately more worthwhile.

    This is not to say, however, that Pi holds a completely postmodern view of God or that he believes in God as a matter of art rather than in a sincere way. [SPOILER ALERT] True, Pi suggests that whether you believe his story has a tiger in it is also a reflection of your ability to believe in something higher. And of course it's easy to read Pi's entire story as an attempt to put an acceptable gloss on a horrific experience. Still...there are a number of clues throughout the book that, in my opinion, give the reader at least some reason to believe that Pi's story DID have a tiger in it (for instance, the floating banana and the meerkat bones).

    [SPOILER ALERT] And that's why the Life of Pi is such a challenge to the reader: Pi's first story is fantastic, wonderful, but hard to believe. Yet there's some evidence that it happened just the way he said it did. And Pi's second story is brutal, terrible, but much easier to accept as true. Yet it's not entirely plausible either, and it leaves no room either for the meerkat bones or for Pi's "trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose." If you personally dismissed the tiger story out of hand, I suppose that's another way of saying that you, by nature, tend to believe the more likely but less lovely story. But it should be born in mind that Pi doesn't definitively state which story was true, something which only he can know for sure. All we can really be sure of, in Pi's universe, is that he was stuck on a lifeboat for a while before making it to shore.

    [SPOILER ALERT] So which story do I believe? I struggled with that question for a long time. But after thinking about it for a couple of days, I'll end this review with the final lines from the book: "Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal Tiger."

  • reality and fiction
    From Amazon

    What holds up in this book, and allows it to rise above the simple "gotcha!" at its conclusion, is that at its heart it concerns the interwoven relationship between fiction and reality. It is about how fiction (in broad terms, a "lie") can become one's salvation from reality. And doesn't that spark some interesting commentary on religion?? A wonderful fable, made better by its refusal to become too pedantic.

  • Math v religion, the life of Pi
    From Amazon

    I'm probably really stretching things but I find it hard to believe that Martel would write a whole book and title it The Life of Pi without giving a thought to mathematics. To my mind, Pi's 227 days on the raft (227 is a prime number) represents a struggle to find meaning in religion. Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter - and so it is with the life of this boy looking to the world for the meaning of life. In the end, you believe what you want to believe (just as you do with religion) but your life experience, culture, indoctrination, even your language is what shapes your thinking. Ultimately, mathematics can offer far more inarguable constructs to explain our universe than can religion.

  • First Degree Nonsense and Second Rate Writing
    From Amazon

    While it is usually considered proper to review a novel based upon its literary merits, the much boasted purpose by some obscure authors for penning their ideas into existence are so odious that it becomes obligatory to focally lambaste the message, as opposed to the presentation of it.

    This is certainly the case for Yann Martel's `Life of Pi', an attempt at moralizing that is so bad, it make the meaning of `sententious' redundant.

    Growing up in a secular Indian environment, young Pi begins to take a serious interest in religion; so serious that he claims to be a practicing Hindu, Christian and Muslim. The first section of the story revolves around his strange creedal concoction, and his attempts to avoid rationalizing any aspect of it. The second section is where the `action' begins. Through an unfortunate calamity, young Pi ends up stranded on a life boat with a Royal Bengal Tiger. I would give credit to Martel for a fairly interesting, and often rather fantastical, account of this voyage, if it hadn't been `borrowed' from Moacyr Scliar's `Max and the Cats'. The final section deals with Pi's rescue, and his questioning regarding the previous events. At this point, we are we told to accept that everything we have just had shoddily narrated to us as a fabrication. Rather, Pi spend a gruesome few weeks on a boat with deranged fellow shipmates. Of course, as one of Pi's questionaires points out, the animal story was `better'. In a complete misuse of the genius of Pascal, we are invited to either accept the tiger story, or the likely reality. His inquisitors decide to accept the nice tiger story, and Pi declares that belief in God is the same.

    Thus, from a sweeping introduction which promised to deliver belief in God, we are informed that while God doesn't exist, it is far sweeter to believe he does. Sorry Mr. Martel, but I prefer to seek the truth, regardless of the feelings it may generate. If Mr. Martel is not attempting to advocate ostrich-atheism, then his premises are based on the nursery-rhyme philosophy that is postmodernism: We can all make up our own truth, and it will be true for us. At times, good literature should be condescending, but never patronising. The latter seems to be quite a skill by Mr. Martel, as also exhibted by the good folk who patronised his silly nonsense with `The Man Booker Prize' in 2006. Evidently, prizes for all...

    In terms of Martel's story-telling, his characterisation is hollow and about as developed as Java man. Martel may wish us to perceive his embodiment of youthful zeal as original or in some way inspiring, but all I beheld was a philosophically blinkered, and theologically ignorant, cliché of religious adherents, grossly perverted and equipped with a multitude of platitudes, while clumsily and unforgivably surviving to an overdue conclusion. One really wonders if the protagonist is necessary to Martel's plagiarised plot...

    In spite of what one may think, I do recommend reading `Life of Pi'. It does depict the supposed values that are seen in contemporary religious belief, as well as personify the values of postmodernism. But expect to finish with the feeling of being lectured by a bonafide anti-intellectual.

Working on your request