Cuộc sống của Pi tiếng anh

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Yann Martel: Life of Pi
life of pi
author's note
This book was born as I was hungry. Let me explain. In the spring of 1996, my second book, a novel, came
out in Canada. It didn't fare well. Reviewers were puzzled, or damned it with faint praise. Then readers
ignored it. Despite my best efforts at playing the clown or the trapeze artist, the media circus made no
difference. The book did not move. Books lined the shelves of bookstores like kids standing in a row to play
baseball or soccer, and mine was the gangly, unathletic kid that no one wanted on their team. It vanished
quickly and quietly.
The fiasco did not affect me too much. I had already moved on to another story, a novel set in Portugal in
1939. Only I was feeling restless. And I had a little money.
So I flew to Bombay. This is not so illogical if you realize three things: that a stint in India will beat the
restlessness out of any living creature; that a little money can go a long way there; and that a novel set in
Portugal in 1939 may have very little to do with Portugal in 1939.
I had been to India before, in the north, for five months. On that first trip I had come to the subcontinent
completely unprepared. Actually, I had a preparation of one word. When I told a friend who knew the country
well of my travel plans, he said casually, "They speak a funny English in India. They like words like
bamboozle." I remembered his words as my plane started its descent towards Delhi, so the word bamboozle
was my one preparation for the rich, noisy, functioning madness of India. I used the word on occasion, and
truth be told, it served me well. To a clerk at a train station I said, "I didn't think the fare would be so
expensive. You're not trying to bamboozle me, are you?" He smiled and chanted, "No sir! There is no
bamboozlement here. I have quoted you the correct fare."
This second time to India I knew better what to expect and I knew what I wanted: I would settle in a hill
station and write my novel. I had visions of myself sitting at a table on a large veranda, my notes spread out in
front of me next to a steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy with mists would lie at my feet and the shrill cries
of monkeys would fill my ears. The weather would be just right, requiring a light sweater mornings and
evenings, and something short-sleeved midday. Thus set up, pen in hand, for the sake of greater truth, I would
turn Portugal into a fiction. That's what fiction is about, isn't it, the selective transforming of reality? The
twisting of it to bring out its essence? What need did I have to go to Portugal?
The lady who ran the place would tell me stories about the struggle to boot the British out. We would agree on
what I was to have for lunch and supper the next day. After my writing day was over, I would go for walks in
the rolling hills of the tea estates.
Unfortunately, the novel sputtered, coughed and died. It happened in Matheran, not far from Bombay, a small
hill station with some monkeys but no tea estates. It's a misery peculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is
good, as are your sentences. Your characters are so ruddy with life they practically need birth certificates. The
plot you've mapped out for them is grand, simple and gripping. You've done your research, gathering the
facts-historical, social, climatic, culinary-that will give your story its feel of authenticity. The dialogue zips
along, crackling with tension. The descriptions burst with colour, contrast and telling detail. Really, your story
can only be great. But it all adds up to nothing. In spite of the obvious, shining promise of it, there comes a
moment when you realize that the whisper that has been pestering you all along from the back of your mind is
speaking the flat, awful truth: it won't work. An element is missing, that spark that brings to life a real story,
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