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Xingjian Gao

One Man's Bible

One Man's Bible Оценка: 4.4 (28)
One Man's Bible is the second novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Gao Xingjian to appear in English. Following on the heels of his highly praised Soul Mountain , this later work is as candid as the first, and written with the same grace and beauty.In a Hong Kong hotel room in 1996, Gao Xingjian's lover, Marguerite, stirs up his memories of childhood and early adult life under the shadow of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution. Gao has been living in self-imposed exile in France and has traveled to this Western-influenced Chinese city-state, so close to his homeland, for the staging of one of his plays.What follows is a fictionalized account of Gao Xingjian's life under the Communist regime. Whether in 'beehive' offices in Beijing or in isolated rural towns, daily life is riddled with paranoia and fear, as revolutionaries, counterrevolutionaries, reactionaries, counterreactionaries, and government propaganda turn citizens against one another. It is a place where a single sentence spoken ten years earlier can make one an enemy of the state. Gao evokes the spiritual torture of political and intellectual repression in graphic detail, including the heartbreaking betrayals he suffers in his relationships with women and men alike.One Man's Bible is a profound meditation on the essence of writing, on exile, on the effects of political oppression on the human spirit, and on how the human spirit can triumph.***One Man's Bible belongs to that sad class of books sold on the strength of their authors having won a prize. But a prize is rather a thin argument for reading it, especially in a wooden English translation. Does one want to know more about Gao Xingjian than his first novel translated into English, Soul Mountain, told? That book had just enough exotic colour to survive its translation; from its portentous title onwards, One Man's Bible has much less going for it. It needs more story, structure, people, situations, atmosphere, ideas anything strong enough to come through the obscuring veil of alien words.When, in 2001, Gao became the first Chinese writer to win a Nobel prize for literature, it came as a surprise. The Chinese literary bureaucrats today's counterparts of the strange Soviet creatures in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita had long been pushing for one of their trusties to win. Gao was certainly not one of those, but neither was he prominent in any of the exiled literary cliques. Since being driven to leave China in the 1980s he had been living in France, writing supposedly experimental, sub-Beckettian plays with Chinese characteristics that some critics in the Chinese-speaking world thought worth discussing. These plays also suited small, subsidised European theatre companies in search of uncommercial exotica full of the timeless wisdom of the east. While still in China, Gao was best known for Bus Stop, a one-acter about people waiting for a bus that never came. What delighted audiences and infuriated the authorities when the play appeared some 20 years ago was its apparent implied message: the never-arriving bus was the wonderful future that the regime promised but could not deliver.Soul Mountain was fiction in the form of an autobiography (or vice versa) that told a fragmented tale of a writer on the run in the wilder reaches of the Yangtze valley. The background chimed with Gao's own flight from the thought police, as well as being a celebration of 'authentic' China surviving 40 years of the party state in remote and picturesque areas. There was quite a lot of sex, too.One Man's Bible also invites us to read its central character, again an author, as an alter ego of Gao's. As he looks back from cosmopolitan exile in the present the book was written in the late 1990s on his life in China, this author makes much of feeling uncomfortable, and wallows in sententiousness. The book starts with a bourgeois childhood before the Communists seized power in 1949 (when the real Gao was eight or

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