Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Chinese
Translated from: Chinese
Authors: Gao Xingjian
Translated by: Biliūnaitė, Agnė
Full translated source bibliographical description:

Gao Xingjian, Lingshan, Taipei: Lianjing Chubanshe, 1996.

ISBN: 978-9986-39-590-4
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2011
Publisher: Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla

The Novel is about journey in Lingshan (Soul Mountain) of which storyteller heard from a person who he met on a train. The journey is written inconsistently; inserting descriptions of nature or place images, folk festivals, faiths, legends and customs. The most parts of novel begin with real events or images, but later they are deviated from the main topic. We can also find subtle mentions about the mood of the narrator, inserting his thoughts. For this reason, it seems like the storyteller moves away from mountain and comes back again.

There are few stories in this book. Novel is started with a second person, but later there are found first and third persons. The story is composed of separate parts which are mixed. It is beginning with a story about journey in Lingshan, afterwards inserting stories about other visited places. Adventures are described as well as the, people which he had met, stories and legends which they had told. A lot of attention is given to the stories about ancient Chinese’s people traditions, like folk songs or shamanism.

In this book are not many characters. However, important role is given to a woman, which storyteller met in ‘Wuyizhen’. This woman, as well as the narrator, travels alone, wants to forget her previous life. They established close relationships for these similarities between them. Even so, that relationship didn’t later break. The main player has told a lot of real and mythical stories for that woman, about places, people who lived there and about himself.

There is no clear indication about storyteller reaching the destination – Lingshan. It is possible that this place is mythical, even not real. When the main player asked people on the road how to reach the mountain, they did not tell the way. They just confused him. Nevertheless, when the narrator traveled he got to know himself and understood that he could not live without other people.

In this novel are a lot of ethnographic descriptions about Chinese’s folk songs, customs, faiths, legends, unique lifestyle. Furthermore, there are described memories, feelings, relationships of the narrator between himself and others. Therefore, “Soul Mountain” is not only a story about the journey in the mountain, but also it is a story about man’s self-knowledge.

Gao Xingjian (1940) is a famous Chinese writer who was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000. In 1983 Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer, however the diagnosis was cancelled after several weeks. Subsequently the writer knew another thing: it was decided to send him in re-education camp. He did not wait for penalty and began a 15,000 kilometers journey in southwest China. This journey which takes 10 months was described in novel ”Soul Mountain”. This book could be called autobiographical because author also is the narrator.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU