Yann Martel, “Life of Pi” (2003)

yann-martel-life-of-pi-2003“I read a great new book called Life of Pi by Yann Martel that draws from the Commedia. It deals with religion and a pilgrimage of sorts. Also, the narrator/author specifically states a desire to tell his story in exactly 100 chapters (which he does). Are there parallels between Virgil and Pi’s tiger? It’s tough to say-I guess you could find some loose similarities between the two figures. The tiger acts as a guide for Pi in the realm of animal survival, helping him to overcome his civilized taboos and do whatever it takes to live. Also, training the tiger and getting enough food to keep it healthy gives Pi a purpose, and keeps him from being overcome by the immensity of his predicament. Pi professes love and admiration for the tiger on many occasions. The book is a really clever religious allegory, and it challenges you to read it on all four levels of interpretation Dante discusses in his letter to Can Grande. It’s a Commedia for the disillusioned 21st century cynic.”    –Chris Moxhay

Contributed by Chris Moxhay (Bowdoin, ’03)