Lueur Interieure, Gao Xingjian 2006
Currently, I’m on page 121 of Soul Mountain and I can’t seem to form a solid opinion of it, nor am I fully immersed in the prose. Virginia Woolf writes in her essay, The Love of Reading, that
…our first duty as readers is to try and understand what the writer is making from the first word with which he builds his first sentence to the last with which he ends his book. We must not impose our design upon him; we must not try to make him conform his will to ours. We must allow Defoe to be Defoe and Jane Austen to be Jane Austen as freely as we allow the tiger to have his fur and the tortoise to have his shell.
In other words, we must not try to interpret what we read until we have reached the very last sentence. That’s why I’m iffy about mid-way book thoughts, and judging books before I’ve completed them: until the moment our eyes reach the last page, the book has an indefinite shape. As Woolf says,
the book as a whole is different from the book received currently in several different parts. It has a shape, it has a being.
Despite knowing this, I’m rather worried at my inability to connect with the writing. I seem to be floating – hovering – outside of Gao’s vision; unable to understand or engage with the story. His writing is quirky, poetic, wonderfully dreamlike at times, but I don’t think I understand Soul Mountain at all. I’ll keep reading, of course, and I am content with enjoying the ride (i.e. appreciating the writing); hopefully, by the time I reach the last page I’ll be more enlightened.
I’ve also decided to do away with fixed reading lists for now, because Matt over at A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook is beginning a sort of read-a-long. He will be reading five books, and since three of them:
- Middlemarch, George Eliot
- Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
- The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu
are on my proposed to-read list for 2009, I’ll be participating for sure. The exact dates have yet to be announced, but until then I’ll be reading whatever takes my fancy. Probably Fitzgerald, and then my two library books – The Waves and The White Tiger – and maybe The Weaker Vessel. Or the Ishiguro. Or A Year in Provence. I’ll probably keep a list of books in the sidebar, but it’ll be susceptible to change.