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Life of Pi: Student Edition (Anglais) Poche – 3 mai 2004


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Extrait

Chapter 1

My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life. I have remained a faithful Hindu, Christian and Muslim. I decided to stay in Toronto. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour — calm, quiet and introspective — did something to soothe my shattered self.

There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths, the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals, since all sloths have three claws on their hind paws. I had the great luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situ in the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguing creature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests on average twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habits of five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in the early evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plastic dishes filled with water. We found them still in place late the next morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects. The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy here in a most relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a tree in its characteristic upside-down position at the speed of roughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to its next tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when motivated, which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah. Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.

The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outside world. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusual dullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe (1926) gave the sloth’s senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and its sense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleeping three-toed sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should suffice to awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction but yours. Why it should look about is uncertain since the sloth sees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reported that firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited little reaction. And the sloth’s slightly better sense of smell should not be overestimated. They are said to be able to sniff and avoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that sloths fall to the ground clinging to decayed branches “often”.

How does it survive, you might ask.

Precisely by being so slow. Sleepiness and slothfulness keep it out of harm’s way, away from the notice of jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles and anacondas. A sloth’s hairs shelter an algae that is brown during the dry season and green during the wet season, so the animal blends in with the surrounding moss and foliage and looks like a nest of white ants or of squirrels, or like nothing at all but part of a tree.

The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment. “A good-natured smile is forever on its lips,” reported Tirler (1966). I have seen that smile with my own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at sloths in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of my scientific probing.

Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of my fellow religious-studies students–muddled agnostics who didn’t know which way was up, in the thrall of reason, that fool’s gold for the bright–reminded me of the three-toed sloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God.

I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.

I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I was tops at St. Michael’s College four years in a row. I got every possible student award from the Department of Zoology. If I got none from the Department of Religious Studies, it is simply because there are no student awards in this department (the rewards of religious study are not in mortal hands, we all know that). I would have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal, the University of Toronto’s highest undergraduate award, of which no small number of illustrious Canadians have been recipients, were it not for a beef-eating pink boy with a neck like a tree trunk and a temperament of unbearable good cheer.

I still smart a little at the slight. When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling. My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition. I mock this skull. I look at it and I say, “You’ve got the wrong fellow. You may not believe in life, but I don’t believe in death. Move on!” The skull snickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn’t surprise me. The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud. The pink boy also got the nod from the Rhodes Scholarship committee. I love him and I hope his time at Oxford was a rich experience. If Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, one day favours me bountifully, Oxford is fifth on the list of cities I would like to visit before I pass on, after Mecca, Varanasi, Jerusalem and Paris. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

"Let me tell you a secret: the name of the greatest living writer of the generation born in the sixties is Yann Martel."--L'Humanité

"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction and its human creators, and in the original power of storytellers like Martel." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review
“If this century produces a classic work of survival literature, Martel is surely a contender.’--The Nation
"Beautifully fantastical and spirited." -- Salon

"Martel displays the clever voice and tremendous storytelling skills of an emerging master." --Publishers Weekly

"[Life of Pi] could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Audacious, exhilarating . . . wonderful. The book's middle section might be the most gripping 200 pages in recent Canadian fiction. It also stands up against some of Martel's more obvious influences: Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, the novels of H. G. Wells, certain stretches of Moby Dick."--Quill & Quire


Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 420 pages
  • Editeur : Mariner Books (3 mai 2004)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0156030209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156030205
  • Dimensions du produit: 17,5 x 10,9 x 2,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.4 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (39 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 42.842 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Lealing sur 9 avril 2003
Format: Relié
Pi is a young Indian boy who lives with his family in Pondicherry, an ex-French enclave in southern India. His father owns a zoo, which is also their home until one day the family decide to emigrate to Canada. During the long voyage by sea, the ship in which they travel on capsizes but Pi manages to land in a lifeboat with some unusual guests aboard. Thus begins his long and lonely journey of survival...
I don't usually pick up a book that has won a serious prize as I tend to think that they are too intellectual and too deep for me but the few words on the back cover caught my attention. I wasn't hooked immediately but was soon after Pi boarded his Noah's Ark. I felt like I was riding a wave of emotions as I accompanied Pi through his long struggle to survive. I felt his fear for Richard Parker and his triumph when the whistle he blew conquered Richard Parker. I could feel his joy and his misery of the downpours of rain and the scorching of the midday sun. The book is a wealth of discovery. How do you fish in the middle of the ocean? How do you know how to eat a turtle? How do you catch the rain? Not a book for the fainthearted though nor for vegetarians. The description of death of the zebra was not a pretty sight. And as for Pi salivating for the taste of Richard Parker's excrement, I must admit I was fascinated to find out Pi's degustation. A very original book which I would highly recommend!
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15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Karine VALLET sur 17 janvier 2004
Format: Relié
Martel est un grand conteur. Ce livre raconte le voyage extraordinaire de Pi tout en posant des questions philosophiques sur la religion/ croyance entre autres mais sans tomber dans le registre des allégories simples. Ce roman ambitieux est destiné à devenir un classique. Le style est agréable et surtout facile d'accès, nous documentant sur de nombreux thèmes. Son originalité réside également sur le foisonnement de niveaux de lecture, offrant ainsi à chacun la possibilité de choisir la sienne.
A lire et à relire.
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11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par "steve75011" sur 18 mars 2004
Format: Broché
I was offered this last year before it won the Booker prize. I don't unsually go chasing after 'Prize-winner's but this is a truly exceptional book. Hovering between fantasy and biography, madness and rationality, dreaming and awakening the reader is literally bowled over in waves of emotion ranging from love, grief, joy, hope, despair, humour, all set on a small boat in the middle of the ocean with only bengal tiger for company. (I read this morning that there are only about 500 of this species left in the world. Perhaps some of the takings for the book could go towards their preservation?) Anyway, it's definitely not one to miss out on. I just wish I could read it again for the first time!!
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Jean-loup Sabatier TOP 500 COMMENTATEURS sur 17 février 2011
Format: Poche
Ce livre raconte la vie d'un jeune homme, fils du patron du zoo de Pondichéry, dont la famille entreprend d'émigrer au Canada lorsque le zoo ferme et que Indira Gandhi entreprend sa politique rétrograde et obscurantiste.

La première partie est intéressante, avec beaucoup de digressions sur deux thèmes : d'une part les zoos, animaux, les écosystèmes ce qu'ils nous apprennent pour l'adaptation des conditions de vie des animaux dans les zoos ; et d'autre part la religion comparée, avec de nombreuses considérations sur l'hindouisme, l'islam le christianisme, leurs dieux et idoles, ainsi que quelques considérations assez bien vues sur l'athéisme aussi.

La deuxième partie change complètement de ton: Après le naufrage du cargo qui les transportait au Canada, le jeune homme se trouve seul à bord d'un bateau de survie avec des animaux de zoo qui ont embarqué là aussi, et qui reconstituent un micro écosystème avec un zèbre, un tigre, une hyène, un orang-outang et un être humain.

Par ailleurs, on s'aperçoit que le livre a été pensé de manière assez rusée et beaucoup travaillé: la plupart des digressions précédentes sur le comportement animal (et des digressions spirituelles sur la nature humaine) vont toutes être mises à contribution dans la partie où l'auteur décrit la survie du naufragé en compagnie de bêtes sauvages.
Lire la suite ›
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Aury Hence sur 11 juin 2006
Format: Poche
Ce livre raconte le voyage extraordinaire de Pi tout en posant des questions philosophiques sur la religion/ croyance entre autres mais sans tomber dans le registre des allégories simples. Ce roman ambitieux est destiné à devenir un classique. Le style est agréable et surtout facile d'accès, nous documentant sur de nombreux thèmes. Son originalité réside également sur le foisonnement de niveaux de lecture, offrant ainsi à chacun la possibilité de choisir la sienne. I Also recommende--The Quest de Giorgio Kostantinos. Superbe.
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7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Gisele sur 7 octobre 2003
Format: Broché
I am in awe of Yann Martel's ability as an author to create such a story! I felt that I was truly sharing Pi's physical struggle as well as his glee, at times, as he was alone on the ocean. A wonderful book to make you realize how quickly your life can change, to not to take what you have for granted, and the resourcefulness of humans in times of crisis.
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