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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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Please excuse the double posting. I thought these points would be important enought to warrant their own post. :) I hope I don't prattle too much here :lol:

 

There were a couple of issues that were brought up in the first part of the book that got me thinking a bit. One was Pi's thoughts on the freedom of animals. He thinks keeping animals in zoos is a type of freedom for them, whereas others think it's cruel. I can see where Pi is coming from but I don't think I necessarily agree.

 

The other interesting part was Pi's thoughts on people who harbour religious doubts (agnostics and the like):

 

To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

 

I don't agree with this at all (not just in terms of religion, but everyday life). I've always been someone who is unable to side with one philosophy or opinion over another because I can't see things in such a black-and-white way. I always look at both (or all) points of view and when I think I'm close to making a decision I start to lean the other way. It's often frustrating for me, but at the time I think I'm just being open-minded (not 'immobile', as Pi would say).

 

I don't think the human race could advance unless people were continually examining their motives and beliefs and adjusting their views accordingly. If everyone was so sure of themselves and their beliefs all the time surely we, as a race, would become stagnant and thus immobile? I think it's doubt that keeps us moving forward (and sometime backward - but it at least keeps us moving!)

 

I was wondering what everyone else thought about these two issues? Probably someone else can it put it more succinctly than I can :lol:

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I quite agree with you, Kylie. Life isn't black and white - everything comes in various shades of grey. I constantly have to re-evaluate my thoughts and beliefs, even if it only makes me realise that my beliefs are the same as they were previously - it forces me to look at everything with fresh eyes. I really do think that if we just accept things blidly and don't ask questions, then the things in which we believe lose meaning, because you end up just going through the motions - stagnation indeed!

 

On a completely different note, I thought these little tidbits from Wikipedia might interest you guys:

 

Pi's name is a shortening of his given name Piscine (which is French for "swimming pool"), but is also referenced as the number π (pi). Pi floated in the ocean for 227 days. This is also another play on the number Pi, as one of the earliest approximations of Pi was 22/7. Martel may have chosen the name Pi to reference the unknowability and unreliabilty of the narrator Pi. Pi is also a number with an infinite decimal representation.
I have to admit, when I found this out I thought it remarkably clever. I'd never even thought about the ramifications of the value of pi as a number corresponding to the amount of days in the sea, although I had considered that Piscine, (meaning swimming pool in French) may have referred to his time spent on the water...

 

The tiger Richard Parker was named after an Edgar Allan Poe character from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). The book tells of four shipwrecked men who, after many days' privation, drew lots to decide who should be killed and eaten. The cabin boy, named Richard Parker, draws the short straw and is eaten. Tales of cannibalism by shipwrecked sailors were not uncommon in the 19th century, but oddly enough, 46 years after Poe's story was published, the very events Poe wrote about would happen in reality. Captain Dudley and three sailors were stranded in a skiff in the Pacific after the sinking of their yacht Mignonette(see R. v. Dudley and Stephens ) on the way to Australia. They are forced to eat one of the party to survive, and feast on his body for 4 days – a sailor boy named Richard Parker.[10] Yet another Richard Parker died when his ship, named the Francis Spaight, sank in January 1846. Ten years earlier, in December 1835, an earlier Francis Spaight was wrecked in the north Atlantic: some of the survivors of that wreck too were involved in cannibalism. As Yann Martel said "So many Richard Parkers had to mean something." [11]
How clever that Richard Parker should go from being someone who had a grisly fate at the hands of lost sailors, to being the one who could so easily make a meal of the narrator of this story!

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Oh, the play on numbers is fascinating! I did not see that! And as I was reading his name I was saying - great,:welcome: to have a name which amounts to 3.142...!

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I was browsing through book-related podcasts in iTunes and what should I stumble across but an interview with Yann Martel about Life of Pi! It was produced by the Guardian Unlimited Book Club and the podcast and related articles can be found at this website, if anyone's interested. (The link is directly to the book club podcasts, but the entire site looks very interesting - there are interviews with other authors such as Philip Pullman).

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Well, I must say this has been quite a controvesial book, judging by the number of posts, and considering the fact that the month is not yet over!

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Well, I must say this has been quite a controvesial book, judging by the number of posts, and considering the fact that the month is not yet over!

 

It's one of those books that stays with you isn't it?

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Controversial books certainly make for more interesting discussions, don't they?

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Kylie -I agree -its that sort of book where as soon as I finished it I wanted to discuss it with others to see what they thought.

 

" In 1980 the Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar - who is acknowledged at the end of Martel's author's note - wrote a novella called Max and the Cats whose cat-obsessed protagonist is, at one stage, shipwrecked in the company of a jaguar. Martel read a review of the tale just before he set out on his own. "

 

I wonder if anyone on here has read it? I am tempted! I seem to recall that author threated to sue Yann Martel for stealing his idea.:welcome:

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" In 1980 the Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar - who is acknowledged at the end of Martel's author's note - wrote a novella called Max and the Cats whose cat-obsessed protagonist is, at one stage, shipwrecked in the company of a jaguar. Martel read a review of the tale just before he set out on his own. "

 

I wonder if anyone on here has read it? I am tempted! I seem to recall that author threated to sue Yann Martel for stealing his idea.:welcome:

 

Wow that's interesting. I might like to read that myself. If you do read it tell us what it's like.

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Well, after finding this hard to get into, I sat up last night to finish it. It turned out to be a very interesting book, and I couldn't wait to come and read this thread again. :)

 

I'm going to put my thoughts in spoilers, as I've now finished:

 

General:

I'm with FishAndChips with this one.. I wasn't interested in any deep meaning, or even the religious ramblings.. for me it was a fun story, and I really did like the twist at the end. (I think I take a rather simple view of my books. :()

 

 

The beginning:

Although there were some interesting ideas at the beginning of the book, to me they almost put me off continuing. I appreciate what Andy was saying about laying down the ideas of faith etc, but for the way I read the story, it just wasn't needed.

 

The boat: I know this could be a little monotonous, but I liked the way it was written. I found the descriptions of eating turtle blood etc a bit gruesome, but considering what we find out later, I guess it's not really! lol

 

The bit I found really disjointed was the other person in the other boat. I suppose it's meant to symbolise Pi killing the cook, but it just kinda appeared out of nowhere, and confused me.

 

 

The island:

A bit different to everyone else here, but I actually liked this bit. Maybe it's because I've read lots of odd horror stories in the past, but the idea of an island turning acid and carnivorous at night was actually quite funny. And I loved the idea of the meerkats living there, being fed dead fish during the day, and living in the trees at night.

 

 

The ending:

Again, someone found the conversation with the Japanese men irritating.. I found it amusing. To me, I saw a dual 'message'.. a) here are two stories, one interesting, one rather nasty.. which would you rather hear? ;) if it's about humans killing humans, it's horrifying.. if it's about animals killing animals, it's all rather acceptable.

 

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Life of Pi really, really annoyed me.

 

- Don't highlight this unless you've read the book, and unless you want to read a whinge about the whole thing -

 

 

 

I have no real understanding why it's so popular, unless people are obsessed by blathering on about faith, and the focus on why believing is so important.

 

The opening section was unutterably tedious. The middle section was kind of interesting and fun, to be honest. But it was then ruined by the idiotic ending that told you it was all basically a lie but that it was good lie because believing the better story is better than having a dour, unspiritual life which has no colour or vibrancy. It's just a pile of :readingtwo:. The ending had me wanting to rip the book to shreds.

 

The opening section is necessary, of course, to lay the groundwork for all the nonsense about faith at the end.

 

The play with colours is important - the green for Islam on the island, the orange for Hindism in the lifejackets and things, the white of the boat for Christianity, the idea that he needs all three colours, all three thing to keep him alive. But it's just clever-clever nonsense in the middle of a stupid book.

 

God, it annoyed me.

 

 

I agree it was the sort of the book that i find very pretentious and i felt like the author was trying to make a look how intelligent i am sort of point.

 

I read it very quickly as i wanted it to be good

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Wow! There really is a lot of mixed feelings on this one, I'm with the people that liked it, and I like it more and more the more I think about it! .. I finished it a few weeks ago now but have been absent from the forum (stressy head again! when will it end!!). But I've been desperate to talk to someone about it!

 

All spoileried up cos you never know!

 

 

 

I found the book very slow to get into, the beginning was quite tedious in places; but saying that, I found it educational too! I enjoyed learning about zoology, about the different distances animals can tolerate people, about the animals that escape from zoos and how they often return to their enclosures. It put a different slant on zoo keeping for me, one which I have never considered. I've always thought that it is mean to keep an animal locked up, but now I appreciate that they would be happy in a well suited enclosure. Sorry, veering off the track!

 

I also enjoyed Pi's thoughts on religion, and the fact that he has chosen to adhere to three different ones and sees no difference, as they are all worshipping God. We need less religious division in the world so Pi's thoughts here were refreshing to me.

 

The book picked up pace for me with the ship wreck, and really drove home just how awful it would be to be in that situation. Nothing around you but water, trying to make the best of a bad situation by catching your own food, and eating in raw. It made me wonder about survival instinct and how I would cope if in a similar situation (I just cannot comprehend being in that situation!). I too liked the island, but didn't really get how it fit in.

 

For me though, the best part of the book happens when you finish it. Thinking about how it all crosses over, I was really blown away. I look at it that Pi created the story with the animals to protect himself from what was really happening, surviving. His mum was the orangutan, the sailor with the injured leg was the zebra, the cook was the hyena, and Pi was Richard Parker. It makes sense that Pi thought the tiger wasn't really around for the first while on the life raft, he'd helped him aboard (in real life, while Pi was fighting for his life), but then he'd disappeared, Pi figured he was dead under the tarpaulin. We only learn about Richard Parker still being around when (in reality) Pi's life was threatened by the cook (hyena) and Richard Parker killed the hyena (Pi's way of distancing himself from what really happened).

 

The more I think of the cross overs between the real life (horrible) story and the animal story, the more I love it. I don't understand who the random stranger was that floated up in a different boat, but I liked that both Richard Parker and Pi were blind at this stage (being the same person), and that Richard Parker killed the stranger (Pi, again protecting himself as the stranger was about to strangle him).

 

Where Pi tried to eat Richard Parkers excrement, again, reflects him distancing himself from the reality that he was starving and tried to eat his own.

 

I guess the training of Richard Parker, was Pi coming to terms with this side of his character, when he had killed the hyena, it was uncontrollable and necessary and scared him. He needed to master this side of himself that he didn't know existed.

 

(back to the island: why was it carnivorous, why did have a human tooth sealed within its leaves? All I can think of that it maybe the seaweed/algae near the boat and the bones of the unfortunate within it).

 

 

 

What do others think of my ramblings? Does this fit with how you see the story too?

 

I kind of want to read it again so that I can find more things that cross over!!!

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I read this a couple of months ago but I didn't realise there was a thread here about it.

 

1- Who was your favourite character and why?

Richard Parker was my favourite character, the main reason being that there are only two main characters and Pi was annoying I found.

 

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

I enjoyed the parts where Pi was learning to adapt to his new surroundings on the boat as he leaned about wildlife/put his existing knowledge to good use. I disliked the parts where he was explaining about how he chose his religions/philosophies on life. That part of the book just seemed too stupid to be taken seriously IMO.

 

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

Yes, no.

 

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

The part about the island that he came across. I couldn;' figure out if it was just a big metaphor or if it really happened because it just seemed so surreal.

 

5- Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Yes, however it did get tedious at times.

 

 

 

I also enjoyed Pi's thoughts on religion, and the fact that he has chosen to adhere to three different ones and sees no difference, as they are all worshipping God. We need less religious division in the world so Pi's thoughts here were refreshing to me.

 

 

 

I disagree with you on your point about the world needing "less religious division" and how Pi's views reflect a healthy religious attitude. I just thought that he was an indecisive and immature person in his choice making and understanding of religion.

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I read Life Of Pi back in.. November or December, can't remember exactly which month it was. I really enjoyed it.

 

 

1- Who was your favourite character and why?

I liked Richard Parker the most. I think he pretty much carried the entire novel.

 

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

I loved the relationship between Richard arker and Pi.. how they were completely dependant on each other. I thought it was very unique and just made them both that much more likable. I also liked reading about Pi's daily struggles, how he dealt with things, how he managed to get through every day life..

 

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

Yes, and no I haven't read anymore of this particular genre. I wouldn't say it has encouraged me but it certainly didn't put me off it..

 

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

I thought the part with the Frenchman was kind of odd.. like does he actually appear? Is it a figment of Pi's imagination? I actually reread that part several times to make sure, and it seems like it really did happen.. but what are the chances of meeting another castaway on the ocean?

The algae island threw me for a loop.. I did enjoy it though, it was something different, a "milestone" in the novel as opposed to just "today I caught another turtle and fed the inards to Richard Parker.. repeat, repeat"

The first quarter of the book was pretty difficult to get through, all the talk of religion and god.. I thought the idea was cool but very tedious nonetheless.

 

5- Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Yes, without a doubt.

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I thought the part with the Frenchman was kind of odd.. like does he actually appear? Is it a figment of Pi's imagination? I actually reread that part several times to make sure, and it seems like it really did happen.. but what are the chances of meeting another castaway on the ocean?

The algae island threw me for a loop.

 

I agree with you about the Frenchman and the island. Both seemed a bit odd and out of place.

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I resisted reading this book because everyone told me I should read it, and I HATE being told what to do. Every time I read the back cover I thought.. ugh.. what a drag! Stuck in a boat with a tiger? yawn :lol:

Ummm, it turns out I should have read it a long time ago because it was quite a good read. :lol: I don't feel I wasted 2 days of my life reading it !! :smile2:

 

An excellent read for anyone who's interested in philosophy, spirituality or surviving a devastating loss. You could debate storylines in this book for a long time. This book stays with you, and some lines haunt you forever.

7.5/10

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1- Who was your favourite character and why?

Having to choose between two main characters I choose Richard Parker.

 

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

I definitely enjoyed the ending and it make me like the book 10 times more. The part that I disliked was the one with the island.

 

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

Yes and yes.

 

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

The island and the Frenchman. Both seemed too unreal to me.

 

5- Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Most definitely!

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I resisted reading this book because everyone told me I should read it, and I HATE being told what to do. Every time I read the back cover I thought.. ugh.. what a drag! Stuck in a boat with a tiger? yawn :)
That's exactly how I felt. It was really hyped and the synopsis made it sound stupid and boring. I'm glad I picked it up though.

 

The hard to believe parts actually made me like it more. I always think 1) it is fiction so I appreciate when authors make it interesting, even if a tad unbelievable, 2) truth is often stranger than fiction so who am I to say what could be?

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I finished Life of Pi last night, and I can see why it's a Marmite book - you either love it or you hate it!

 

I actually really enjoyed it. I think because it was so unlike anything I had ever read before - it has totally original storyline (if slightly unbelievable - but then it IS fiction!) and has moments of humour in it.

 

I didn't quite understand the relevance of the first part, when he chooses his religions, and I found myself starting to skim through some of the first part, but once I'd reached the second part I found it a really good read.

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I bought this novel around two weeks ago. Have been wanting it for a while and looking forward to reading very much :blush:

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I keep forgetting about this thread!

 

1. My favourite character is definitely Pi. I'm surprised no one (on this page of the thread anyway lol) has chosen him :)

He is, imo, such a well rounded character (I'm not sure that's the right term; well you know what I mean), so human, that's what I liked about him the most. He was full of flaws when you think about it, but still managed to stay a positive character and I think that is what I loved about him. He seemed realistic.

I don't think that anyone can stay completely ''good'' (you know, Jesus-like good, :D perfect if you will) in today's world, and especially in a situation where you have to think about your survival, and be (with full right) selfish. He had to brake the rules he obeyed his whole life, and rules he believed in (a simple example, he's a vegetarian and he started eating fish and turtles, and killing beings to survive). He hurt because of that but he had to think about saving his own life.

And I also liked how he really did seem his age, you know not some teenager in the middle of the ocean acting like he's a 37 year old ex marine lol.

 

2. I enjoyed the first part (and the ending :D ) more than the second, shipwreck-part of the book. It was witty and fun how he learned about other religions, and so true. He was, again, acting like a typical human (and child ;) ). He was suspicious of some of the religious things he heard about (e.g. from the Bible) and God I'll never forget that ''pedestrian God'' part when he listens about Jesus :lol: Anyway, the 1st part is my fav, I love the wit hehe.

 

3. This book became a fav, and has definitely made me read other things by this author (I've read parts of his book ''The Thruth Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios'', it's a collection if his short stories, and some stories were fantastic). I love his way of writting.

 

4. I'm still thinking about some parts :lol: Although both stories seem possible, I think I like to think that the story with Richard Parker is the one that's true. But again, I still haven't made a definite decision xD

 

5. YES!

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I would say the book is better, although the film is quite visually stunning and wonderful to see.

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