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Life of Pi

Life of Pi


by Yann Martel

Literature and Writing Quotes in Life of Pi

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

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. [...]. 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 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? (Author's Note.1.5)

The transformation of reality is essential to this novel. The argument goes something like this: when we transform reality, we present it more truthfully. Or, when we describe something like Portugal, we describe the actual Portugal more fully. Try telling this to someone the next time you get caught in a lie.

Quote #2

It's a misery peculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is good, as are your sentences. [...]. The dialogue zips along, crackling with tension. The descriptions burst with color, 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 [...]. Your story is emotionally dead, that's the crux of it. The discovery is something soul-destroying, I tell you. It leaves you with an aching hunger. (Author's Note.1.7)

Even with all the technique in the world (or out-of-this-world technique), a story will sputter and die if it doesn't have passion. It's an odd fact of literature, according to Martel: feeling matters more than skill.

Quote #3

Catholics have a reputation for severity, for judgment that comes down heavily. My experience with Father Martin was not at all like that. He was very kind. He served me tea and biscuits in a tea set that tinkled and rattled at every touch; he treated me like a grown-up; and he told me a story. Or rather, since Christians are so fond of capital letters, a Story. (1.17.13)

Pi sees in Christianity a drive to contain all lower-case "stories" in a single upper-case "Story." How is Life of Pi itself an upper-case Story? How can a single Story contain a multitude of stories?

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