Constant Reader
WebBoardOrientationReading ListsHome WorksActivities

Buy the paperback

In the Skin of the Lion
by Michael Ondaatje

Book Description:
Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick's life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning The English Patient.
 


Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (1 of 50), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, January 14, 2001 03:04 PM Just finished this intriguing power house and am brimming with comments and questions. See you all tomorrow (or maybe 12:01 AM if I can't contain myself.)
Topic: In the Skin of the Lion - Michael Ondaatje (2 of 50), Read 45 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 07:53 AM I finished yesterday as well. Talk away! I was carried away by the writing style, especially in the very beginning. His descriptions of Patrick as a young boy were very effective. He followed his father around in the Canadian forests, winters and summers gliding into one another, to give you a kind of panorama of what life was like for him. I liked how those early experiences shaped him, but I have lots of questions about the end of the book. I won't pose them just yet. Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of the Lion - Michael Ondaatje (3 of 50), Read 47 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 09:56 AM I wasn't expecting to read this book with this group but on Saturday I was buying some used books and, in passing, I asked if the store had this one. It did and I finished it yesterday very glad to have read it. As I was reading I kept noticing the echoes in the narrative. This gives it a warmth and humanity, a dream-like quality. But, I had forgotten that we are told on the opening page that the narrative is a memory related to a young girl during a long drive. Only when I re-read this after finishing the novel did the echoes find their perspective: they derive from the associative nature of memory. We learn at the end of the novel that it is related to Hana on the drive to Marmora (homophone for memory, perhaps?). Dean
Topic: In the Skin of the Lion - Michael Ondaatje (4 of 50), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 10:05 AM I was fascinated by the constant allusions to light/dark, water, moths/metamorphosis. Somehow, I thought Patrick's fascination by moths had to do with his missing mother. She flew off into the dark, after being pulled toward the light of life in the home. He talked about how the moth disappeared into the dark, which is how a young child might see death. We don't actually know what happened to her, though. I also thought the references to dynamite were interesting. An interesting contrast between Hazen and Patrick was that Hazen did his destruction above ground to get lumber moving in the river, while Patrick did his underground to destroy. It seemed to me, though, that they were both very angry men. There's so much to think about in this novel!
Topic: In the Skin of the Lion - Michael Ondaatje (5 of 50), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 10:17 AM Much, indeed. Temelkoff worked on a bridge; Patrick worked on a tunnel. Yes, water and the other "elements:" earth, of course, in the tunnel but also in the description of the sun setting into the earth; Temelkoff, in the air and the fog; fire when Patrick finds Ambrose.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (6 of 50), Read 50 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 10:49 AM I don't have anything to say right now--but having the incorrect title in the topic header was driving me nuts! David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (7 of 50), Read 47 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 11:45 AM I read this one a couple of years ago, but I'd completely forgotten it, had even forgotten that I'd read it, so I started in afresh. Nothing rang a bell until that nun fell off the bridge. That's not an image easily forgotten. Somehow the nun popped open my memory cork, and from then on I felt on familiar territory. Familiar, but no less puzzling. I didn't notice, even on this second reading the references to memory both fore and aft. Think about it as disjointed memory helps some. There's some great writing, some wonderful moments in this book, but it's a tenuous thread connecting them. I have a lot of questions. Alice is the nun, no? What is Caravaggio's role? What is the symbolism of his being a theif? And Temelcoff, a bridge worker and a baker? Is there such a bridge actually in Toronto? What's the significance of Caravaggio's name? Etc, etc. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (8 of 50), Read 48 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 11:45 AM David- My title reads, "In the Skin of a Lion." What does yours say? Did I read the wrong book?!
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (9 of 50), Read 54 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 11:53 AM It's just that the title on the beginning note of this thread says the Lion, Kay. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (10 of 50), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 12:42 PM Oops. I changed it. I have trouble seeing Patrick as a lion. Can anyone help me sort that out? Skins are mentioned throughout the book, but I haven't taken the time to sort through them quite yet.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (11 of 50), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 12:56 PM Add that to my list of questions. What's with this lion skin business? Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (12 of 50), Read 50 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 01:10 PM When I envision someone in a lion's skin, I see a tribal dance, with a person "becoming" a lion and taking on the lion's power and prowess, sort of a magic ritual. Also this lion's skin would hide the true nature of the person inside. So the lion's skin could be both a disguise and a source of personal power. I saw Alice as disguised. She made her escape from a nunnery in a very passive way, but then she made a new life for herself (that could have been another book all on it's own). She took her name from a parrot and I imagine the "gull" part was from her flight off the bridge. But Patrick was the main character, so was he disguised? He was an observer, so maybe he was. Maybe he was disguised from himself as well. SPOILER Does anyone understand why he tried to burn down that hotel? I know it must have had something to do with Alice's death, but I can't come up with anything better than anger. Why that particular hotel? It seemed he went out of his way to find that exact place. Thanks, Dean, for pointing out that introductory paragraph about the ride in the car and the story told to a girl. I had totally forgotten about that. It really rounded out the story for me. Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (13 of 50), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 01:20 PM That's a good question, Sherry. I remember thinking I must have missed something. Do you suppose it had something to do with the union thing? Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (14 of 50), Read 52 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 01:38 PM I'm not sure, Ruth. It wasn't clear, if it was a union thing. After that incident, everything took on a kind of dreamy, flowing quality. His motivation was unclear and so was the rest of the book. I'm sure it was intentional, but I can't quite get my brain wrapped around it. It's slippery. Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (15 of 50), Read 60 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 01:58 PM Incidental notes: Marmora is a real town in Ontario; it is also a sea off the northwest coast of Turkey, taking its name from an island. Personally, I don't suspect it of any deeper meaning. 'In the Skin of a Lion' is a reference from the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the epic, Enkidu the innocent, whole man, is dying and rages against his fate. A god rebukes him, noting that when he dies, the people will grieve and even the great Gilgamesh (Enkidu's buddy and part god himself) will mourn by letting his hair grown long and wandering the countryside clothed 'in the skin of a lion'. Thus, the title seems to be a general reference to a sign of mourning, a declaration of recognition of mortality and loss, a statement about the perpetual state of man on earth and probably half a dozen other things I'm missing, but certainly those. Note too how the narrative form of ITSOAL follows the form of the epic: a tale of memory, originally told orally, and then set down in written form. When a few of us read this book several years ago, I obtained and read The Epic of Gilgamesh as an adjunct to the book. It's short, it's understandable and it added to my appreciation of Ondaatje's work -- which is not a retelling of the epic, but perhaps a great elaboration on the underlying themes. I recommend the Epic as a painless and useful adjunct to this read. This is one of my favorite books of the last 10 years, and indeed a lifetime of reading. Hope some of you enjoy it as much as I do. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (16 of 50), Read 59 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 03:30 PM Dick, I agree about Marmora. It was just a bit of word play on my part and possibly Ondaatje's. Gilgamesh was a king who knew how to build walls, dig wells and sail. He embodied civilization but he oppressed his people by strict control. The people cried out to the gods. The gods heard the cries of the people and created Enkidu. Enkidu was of the beasts and the forests and embodies uncontrolled nature. At first, Gilgamesh and Enkidu fight but soon become good friends and accomplish many great feats. At Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh is grieved and says that he will take on Enkidu's ways, i.e., wear the skin of a lion. Gilgamesh also dies but not before he has learned from Enkidu's friendship and loss to be more sympathetic to all. I believe that this touches on the aspects of the novel which deal with the relation between rich and poor; employers and labourers; Harris and Patrick.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (17 of 50), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 05:47 PM Dean: By golly, you put it in a nutshell. And, of course, that whole 'build a city' thing, as well. But basically, you've written the Cliffnotes for Gilgamesh. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (18 of 50), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 05:55 PM By the way, the story of Ambrose Small is based upon fact. http://www.torontoghosts.org/middlesex/ambrose.htm David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (19 of 50), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 05:55 PM This is starting to make a little more sense. As I look back through the book, there are many references to skins. Ondaatje spends a page discussing the dyers of animal skins - animals that until yesterday were alive. Patrick pays particular attention to Alice's scar at the side of her nose. She's a crusader for workers' rights, and has survived many battles. Caravaggio escapes prison, but only after he's been clawed by the inmates. After the attack, "The blood flows along his chin into his mouth. He feels as if he has eaten the animal that attacked him and he spits out everything he can, old saliva, blood, spits again and again. Everything is escaping. His left hand touches his neck and it is not there." As Patrick is fighting his way into the Waterworks, his skin is abraded, "coming off his cheek and his back." These all sound like the life of a lion. He kills, he devours, he fights, he has war wounds. Perhaps the lion is not meant to be one character, but several. Perhaps one interpretation of the lion is the People, fighting for their rights and survival. Another might be a human's emotional survival. That would certainly define Patrick for me.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (20 of 50), Read 45 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 06:44 PM Can't get the link to work, David. I'm really curious, not only about Ambrose Small, but about the bridge, and all the other events/things that seemed as if they could be based on history. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (21 of 50), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, January 15, 2001 08:49 PM My impression of David during most of the book was that he was the alien in the story. He was one of the few characters who was born in Canada, but most of the people that he associated with during his childhood and during his work were aliens. He felt like the alien because he couldn't communicate with them. This ties in with his role as an observer as someone else mentioned. "He looked up and saw the men and women who could not know why he wept now among these strangers who in the past had seemed to him like dark blinds on his street, their street, for he was their alien." I thought that he burned the hotel to get back at the rich. It was his way of mourning Alice's death and Alice hated the rich. She quotes Conrad, "An idle and selfish class loves to see mischief being made, even if it is made at its own expense." One of my favorite images in the book is when the young Patrick is watching the loggers skate and they are using cattails as torches. What a beautiful scene. Jane
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (22 of 50), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 07:12 AM That was one of my favorite parts of the book, too, Jane. And then toward the end he finds out who they were, the Finns. When he was recalling that scene as an adult, he thought to himself how he was an alien even then. He would never claim the river by skating on it in the night, using cat-tails as torches. You're probably right about his motives for burning down the hotel. I had forgotten how Alice hated the rich. Did you get a sense of why? Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (23 of 50), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 10:00 AM Interesting question, Sherry. Something must have happened to her between the time Nicholas caught her and Patrick met up with her and Clara. Perhaps her struggle to make her way was brutal economically?
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (24 of 50), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 10:47 AM Temelcoff, a labourer, saved Alice's life even at the risk of his own. If she had gained any knowledge of Ambrose through Clara it would have further influenced her antipathy toward the rich.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (25 of 50), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 10:58 AM Good point, Dean. Makes sense, since Ambrose spirited Clara away, even though Clara knew what kind of person he was. The lure of the money bought an unhappy life for Clara. Alice didn't like that.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (26 of 50), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 11:10 AM Does anyone have any ideas about the reference to "six stars and the moon" in the sky as Patrick and Hana are driving to Marmora?
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (27 of 50), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 11:27 AM The unions were not known for their love of the rich. Alice was all involved in the union movement. Did anyone get a sense of which came first for her, her hatred of the rich or her involvment in the union? I didn't. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (28 of 50), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Susan Pardue (spardue@carolina.rr.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 11:44 AM Don't nuns have to take a vow of poverty? Her dislike of wealth seems to be the only carryover from her earlier days. . . Susan
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (29 of 50), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 11:49 AM Given Alice's initial reticence, she may also have taken a vow of silence.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (30 of 50), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:17 PM I've been meaning to read The Epic of Gilgamesh. I guess now would be a good time :-) I finished this book a couple of days ago, but I believe that those lines with the in a skin of a lion quote are in the book. Maybe Alice reads them to Patrick? I'm not sure. I've been wondering about the six stars and the moon. I did a search on Yahoo for that phrase and pulled two articles -- one about ITSOAL and another about the High Priestess card in a Tarot deck. Here's the latter article: http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/PT/M4.html Here's the relevant paragraph for those of you who don't want to read that whole thing: As the anima represents and personifies the elements of the collective unconscious, so Luna represents the other six planets, and her metal Silver is the sum and essence of the spirits of the other six metals (Jung, MC 176). The six stars and the moon on the High Priestess's gown represent the seven metals and the seven planets. I'm not sure that explains a whole lot, but there you go. There are at least three references in the book to events happening under six stars and a moon. I'll try and find them tonight and report back. Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (31 of 50), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:24 PM Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, Karen, and not to be picky, but last I heard, the moon wasn't a planet. Does anyone know if Ondatje was interested in Tarot? I do get the feeling that there is lots of symbolism in the events and persons in this book, and how and why they're strung together. I also get the feeling that it's eluding me. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (32 of 50), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:28 PM Here's a poem by Donald Justice, which contains a reference to six stars and a moon: Ladies by Their Windows 1 They lean upon their windows. It is late. Already it is twilight in their house; Autumn is in their eyes. Twilit, autumnal-- Thus they regard themselves. What vanities! As all nature were a looking glass To publish the small features of their ruin. Each evening at their windows they arrive As in anticipation of farewells, Though they would still be lingering if they could, Weary, yet ever restless for the dance, Old Cinderellas, hearing midnight strike, The mouse-drawn coach impatient at the door. 2 The light in going still is golden, still A single bird is singing in the wood, Now one, now two, now three, and crickets start, Bird-song and cricket-sigh; an all the small Percussion of the grass booms as it can, And chimes, and tinkles, too, _fortissimo_. It is the lurch and slur the world makes turning. It is the sound of turning, of a wheel Or hand-cranked grinder turning, though more pomp To this, more fiery particles struck off At each revolve; and the last turn reveals The darker side of what was light before. Six stars shine through the dark, and half a moon! Night birds go spiraling upwards, with a flash Of silvery underwings, silver ascendings, The light of stars and of the moon their light, And water lilies open to the moon, The moon in wrinkles on the water's face. To shine is to be surrounded by the dark, To glimmer in the very going out, As stars wink, sinking in the bath of dawn, Or as a prong of moon prolongs the night-- Superfluous curve!--unused to brilliancies Which pale her own, yet splurging all she has. 3 So ladies by their windows live and die. It is a question if they live or die, As in a stone-wrought frieze of beasts and birds The question is, whether they go or stay. It seems they stay, but rest is motion too, As these old mimicries of stone imply. Say, then, they go by staying, bird and beast, Still gathering momentum out of calm, Till even stillness seems to much of haste, And haste too still. Say that they live by dying, These who were warm and beautiful as summer, Leaning upon their windows looking out, Summer-surrounded then with leaf and vine, With alternate sun and shade, those whom the noon Wound once about with beauty and then unwound, Whose warmth survives in coldness as of stone, Beauty in shadows, action in lassitude, Whose windows are the limits of their lives. I also pulled a couple of references to the constellation Gemini, which has 6 stars which can be seen by the naked eye. Also to another constellation called the Trapezium, found in the Orion Nebula. Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (33 of 50), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:34 PM Karen, me love, aren't you at work this fine morning? Beautiful poem, I love the line, "It is the lurch and slur the world makes turning." Ah, yes, it is that. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (34 of 50), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:38 PM Yes, but I can play on the computer during my lunch break... Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (35 of 50), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:42 PM That article on the High Priestess Tarot card, including that one paragraph I posted, has lots of references to Jung, MC. I think this refers to the section of Jung's collected works entitled, Mysterium coniunctionis. Maybe Ondaatje is interested in Jungian psychology and that six stars and a moon phrase comes from there? Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (36 of 50), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 12:47 PM It seemed that Patrick preferred the darkness to the light of the sun. Is it possible that the soft illumination of moonlight was acceptable to him? It still allows for a negotiation of darkness, where details fade, and possibilities are endless. Rowland Harris makes the observation that , "Night removed the limitations of detail and concentrated on form." After Patrick first sees the Finns skating, with lit rushes, he realizes his world will never be the same. The sparks of light seem to open up the darkness (mystery) to him. His perception of life changes. I think he realizes there may be a way to negotiate the darkness that intrigues him so much. Patrick fights anything illuminated sharply. He prefers the softness and dulled edges of darkness. When he watches the porters, Ondaatje writes, "He has walked through the pools of light hanging over this platform and light has not attached itself to him." Patrick has not yet found an acceptable form of light. Caravaggio seems to enjoy both the light and the dark, "He hated the hours of sleep. He was a man who thrived and worked in available light. At night his wife would sleep in his embrace but the room around him continued to be alive, his body porous to every noise, his stare painting out darkness." Bright light is not to be desired. Soft illumination seems to be acceptable. I find that an interesting concept.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (37 of 50), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 03:41 PM Excellent, Kay. You have reminded me also of his blindfolded trick in his apartment. It works very well until somebody moves so it works best when he is alone.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (38 of 50), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 05:47 PM Not sure--but might the "six stars" may refer to the "planets" visible to ancient peoples (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars,Jupiter, Saturn), that appeared to wander through the skies? I also have the impression of astrological implications as well. David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (39 of 50), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 09:15 PM I think that Alice may have hated the rich because of the death of Hana's father. He was working as a union man and was executed by the management. That is a chilling scene when the death of Hana's father is described. Jane
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (40 of 50), Read 23 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001 11:35 PM Oh good, a great discussion underway. Skin of a Lion was my nomination. I read it a couple of times before it made the list - always wishing I had someone to discuss it with. It's much better than The English Patient, IMO. I'm flying to California this week, and hoping to read this on the plane there and back, so I'll be able to participate. Theresa
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (41 of 50), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:34 AM I liked it better than The English Patient, too, Theresa. I really got lost in that one. In this one, I feel like a have a pretty good grip on the pieces of the puzzle, just need to figure out how it all fits together. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (42 of 50), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:42 AM Thank you, Karen for your efforts about "the six stars and a moon." I went to the site which you posted for the High Priestess tarot card and found some things which may resonate with the book. I point out a few in bold face. Verse The Shining Queen, who rules the velvet night, And nurtures nascent change, concealed from sight, Transforms and changes, light and dark by turns, And seeks the Sun to sire the spark that burns Within the water, newborn Child of Light. Interpretation ...She stands for those subconscious processes that are most hidden, those which invisibly nurture, develop, connect and relate, those which transcend duality. For, although she is a virgin priestess... she is also... the concealed mother required to manifest the spiritual. As such she also represents the subconscious, synthetic processes of memory. Could we say that the story is about Patrick finally coming out of the dark by telling his story to Hana? But we are hearing Patrick's story in the third person. This is why I so easily forgot that it was a memory. I think that Hana is telling us the story which was told to her on that long drive. I think that Hana is the narrator. Gilgamesh hoarded everything for himself. But after he had known Enkidu, he felt sympathy for those who laboured for him . As a symbol of his acceptance of sympathy for others, Gilgamesh put aside the trappings of a king and donned the skin of a lion. So too my contact with Patrick has led me to be sympathetic to those who labour to build the "palaces" of water and all the other "palaces" which I use. By evoking such sympathy, Michael Ondaatje has placed me "in the skin of a lion."
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (43 of 50), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 06:30 AM Dean, I'm so glad you joined CR. Your insights are riveting. This book is so rich with symbolism which works on a subconscious level, even if one is unaware of all the connections. But seeing some of the connections in the light of day (after the dreamlike experience of the book) is rewarding. Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (44 of 50), Read 21 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 07:59 AM Jane- Of course you're right about why Alice hated the rich. Thank you. I had forgotten her husband was murdered by the management. Dean- Such an eloquent summation of the significance of the title. That captured the ethereal quality of the book.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (45 of 50), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 10:29 AM Thank you, Sherry. I'm very happy to have found this group. From the beginning, you and the others have made me feel most welcome. Thank you, Kay. The insights of the others in this group contributed greatly to my summary.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (46 of 50), Read 14 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:21 PM I was never clear on exactly who Hana's father was. I kind of assumed it was the guy who saved Alice from falling (I don't have the book in front of me to look up his name). Alice was very mysterious about her past. She never told Patrick the story of being a nun and falling off the bridge. He went to the bakery and heard that story from the guy who caught her. I kind of thought she made up the whole story about Hana's father. Or took a true story in which she played no part and made that the story of Hana's father. Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (47 of 50), Read 14 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:36 PM I was quite startled when Patrick said that he was Hana's father.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (48 of 50), Read 15 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:56 PM Holy cow. The thoughts and readings here are astounding!!! I am so inspired! I haven't read this for about ten yearsish? And I am going to go find a copy. Really, every one I am not worthy the insights here are fabulous! hey Dean, pretty nice weather yesterday and the day before huh? Can you share your second hand book stores with me. I'll warn ya, you'd be in for some serious competition, I might strip them bare.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (49 of 50), Read 12 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 01:02 PM Dean -- I had forgotten about that comment at the end of the book. I was shocked when he said that. I was trying to remember how old Hana was when he met Alice again. I think she was 9? He was in jail for 5 years and she was 16 when he got out. So he lived with them for a couple of years. And they were both so connected to Alice. They're clearly family to each other... Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (50 of 50), Read 6 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 01:34 PM The theme of family is a wonderful part of this book. If you include Temelcoff we could almost say extended family. The interactions between Alice, Patrick and Hana were touching especially the respect which they give to Hana as a person. Hi, Candy. I think Vancouver weather is great and these last few days have been grand. I got some of the books for the upcoming Classics Corner discussions at Albion Books on Seymour. That's where I was lucky enough to get "In The Skin of a Lion."
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (51 of 63), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 03:09 PM I interpreted Patrick's claim of being Hana's father as an acceptance of his engagement with Life. He feels he now has people to light the soft edges of the darkness.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (52 of 63), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 04:47 PM excuse me butting in here... Dean, I have been frequenting Tanglewood Books on Granville. Have you just moved do you say? Today is a little dark for my taste.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (53 of 63), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 05:14 PM I'm originally from Montreal. I've been in Vancouver since '91. The creaking wooden floors give Tanglewood on Granville a special atmosphere. But, I've visited quite few used book stores here. My biggest book hunting surprise came when I found "Napoleon Symphony" by Anthony Burgess at the ABC Book and Comic Emporium near Granville and Davie.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (54 of 63), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 09:00 PM Two weeks ago in Tanglewood I bought Finegans Wake, Goethe, Susan Musgrave, Norton anthologies of modern poetry, all of their Conrad, The Confidence Man by Melville. Right now I am in a restaurant at Broadway and Granville.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (55 of 63), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 09:19 PM You weren't kidding about cleaning out a book store.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (56 of 63), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 09:24 PM I know, hide your sons.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (57 of 63), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 11:23 PM Hi Ruth, way back up there in this thread. I found Lion to be far more complex and nuanced than Patient, one of the factors in Lion's favor imo. Patient had more obvious extra-textual referenced, but it was a more straight-forward story. Of course, this opinion is subject to change once I re-read Lion. For those who did not like the movie adaptation of Patient, can you imagine anyone trying to make a movie of Lion? Theresa
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (58 of 63), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Thursday, January 18, 2001 11:02 AM I keep replaying Carravagio's unusual prison escape in my mind. In looking back to check something, I was reminded that he appears early in the book. At the beginning of the section, "The Bridge," he has a disagreement with a supervisor. What captivates me is that most prison escapes involve tunneling. The escapee, covered in dirt, "makes a break for it." Carravagio's escape was, in effect, through a hole in the sky. It always makes me smile to think of it.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (59 of 63), Read 23 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, January 18, 2001 11:34 AM I thought their solution to paint him blue to match the roof color was ingenious. Was there any significance to that, do you think, or am I reaching too far for symbolism? Perhaps it was, as you say, to disappear into the sky. Dean- Your point about him escaping above ground is an interesting one, and in contrast to Patrick, who dealt with his crises underground. I think the fact that Hazen, Patrick's father, used dynamite above ground to restore the natural flow contrasts nicely with Patrick's use of dynamite to destroy underground. Light and dark, again. Water is a factor for both, but Hazen uses water to maintain a flow while Patrick uses water to destroy. What did you all make of the Patrick and Two Women reference after Alice and Clara paint his spirit? I was confused about his references to St. Jerome and the Lion, Judith and Holofernes. Notice that he repeats "Patrick and the Two Women," the second time using all caps. Holofernes is an Assyrian general, holding siege on Judith's city of Bethulia. She flees the city and makes Holofernes believe he'll soon be victorious. So, he invites her into his tent for a nice seduction, and she cuts off his head when he's drunk instead. As the source says, "The book of Judith is an apocryphal text that appears in the Roman Catholic Old Testament but in neither the Hebrew nor Protestant Bibles." http://www.pbs.org/ringsofpassion/anguish/gentileschi.html (See painting) St. Jerome was a priest who lived between 340-2 to 420. He was part of a group of exegetes (explainers or interpreters of text) who, like most critics of the Bible, ran into big trouble. The only reference I could find to a lion in conjunction with St. Jerome was a tale whereby he pulled out a thorn from the foot of a lion. Who can flesh this story out for me? http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08341a.htm The reference to the New World makes a bit more sense to me, as does the Two Women. Ruth- By any chance, is he referring to paintings? When I ran my search for St. Jerome and the Lion, a painting by Carpaccio. Sounds like Caravaggio, doesn't it? http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/c/carpacci/3schiavo/1/2jerome.html Couldn't find a painting called "New World." Ruth? Anyway, I can't figure what these paintings all have in common. Patrick mentions that he loves the "tableau." I'm sure that has significance, but I'm not sure what it is. Help! Any chance these have to do with light/dark somehow? I'm reaching here. Here's the passage from "The Searcher." (p.79 in my King Penguin copy) "Later he will think of the seconds when he was almost asleep and they entered the dark room with candles. The approach of magicians. He feels more community remembering this than anything in his life. Patrick and the two women. A study for the New World. Judith and Holofernes. St. Jerome and the Lion. Patrick and the Two Women. He loves the tableau, even though being asleep he had not witnessed the ceremony."
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (60 of 63), Read 24 times, 1 File Attachment Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, January 18, 2001 12:23 PM Kay, you've provided me with what I think is an insight by mentioning those paintings. I've been wondering why he chose the name Caravaggio. Then you went and mentioned C and then the light/dark thing and the old brain went bing! Caravaggio the artist is known for his use of chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro taken apart is chiaro (Italian for light) and oscuro (Italian for dark). It refers to the use of extreme darks and lights to delineate three dimensional form. So there we go, that's got to be at least one of the reasons behind Ondatje's choice of the name. Artemesia Gentileschi, whose Judith you’ve linked to, was a follower of Caravaggio. Here’s Caravaggio’s version of Judith & Holfernes Michelangelo Merisi detto il Caravaggio Giuditta che taglia la testa a Oloferne (1597-1600) olio su tela cm. 145x195 Here’s a better known Caravaggio Caravaggio The Calling of Saint Matthew 1599-1600 Oil on canvas 10' 7 1/2" X 11' 2" Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome Here we see not only the use of dramatic chiaroscuro, but another aspect of Caravaggio’s art which might apply to our discussion. He got a lot of flack during his lifetime for his use of common people (laborers, prostitutes, etc. ) as models for religious subjects, much the same people that Ondatje uses in this book. Ruth CALLING_OF_ST_MATTHEW.JPG (14KB)
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (61 of 63), Read 12 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Thursday, January 18, 2001 09:16 PM Kay and Ruth, Thanks for the ideas about the light and dark of the novel. By the way, my Bible has the book of Judith, and it is most definitely a Protestant Bible (The New Jerusalem Bible). Jane
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (62 of 63), Read 11 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, January 18, 2001 09:41 PM It's not in the King James version. Hmmmm - I wonder if St. Jerome worked on the Book of Judith and if that has anything to do with the passage. I still don't understand what St. Jerome and the lion, Judith and Holofernes, the New World, and Patrick and the Two Women have in common.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (63 of 63), Read 2 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 12:03 AM Thanks, Kay and Ruth. Carravagio was such a master of chiaoscuro that there is no problem associating him with it, although, I believe that the technique was developed by Leonardo Da Vinci. His association with labourers gives him a strong link with a major theme of the novel. This is something which I hadn't known and I'm glad that you mentioned it. Let me speculate a bit about Patrick's references as he looks at the picture which the women made as he slept. Clara has tacked the picture to the door. Patrick looks at his self-portrait and since he is surrounded in his life by immigrants he sees it as "a study for the New World." How it was made, two women illicitly approaching a sleeping man, reminds him of "Judith (and her maidservant) and Holofernes." This also acknowledges his vulnerability. In a humourous reversal of this he imagines that the women were at "risk" approaching a "fierce male" like "St. Jerome and the Lion." I imagine him smiling as he gives the piece its fiercely exaggerated title "Patrick and the Two Women."
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (64 of 102), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 12:27 AM You'r right, Da Vinci used chiaroscuro, as did many other Renaissance artists. But it was muted compared to the chiaroscuro of the Baroque period. (Which includes Caravaggio.) That chiaroscuro was so exaggerated that it has its own term--tenebrism. I don't know the derivation of that word, and I wonder if it's relevant here. I did look to see if I could find a St. Jerome by Caravaggio, but came up with nothing. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (65 of 102), Read 54 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 02:45 AM There is a drawing by Rembrandt or someone else "in the style of" Rembrandt most likely before or in the 18th century -- strictly a pen and ink thing -- of St. Jerome and his lion -- I think the tale goes that the lion after it was helped simply stayed with him -- only not quite that simple. I most recently ran across this when we stumbled on the Rembrandt and others exhibit at Abbaye Val Dieu -- last year sometime? -- but Kathleen Norris speaks of this picture or one like it in I believe The Cloister Walk as figuring in her spiritual journeys. Dottie -- without Justine but listening in ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (66 of 102), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 08:20 AM The story I know of a lion with a thorn in its foot is that the man who pulled the thorn became a prisoner and was sent to the Coliseum to be torn apart by lions for the amusement of the spectators. The lion that came out happened to be the lion out of whose paw the man had pulled the thorn. The lion remembered him, and sat down at his feet instead of killing him. Karen
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (67 of 102), Read 49 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dean Denis (dddenis@iname.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 10:06 AM The original story is "The Slave and the Lion" from Aesop's Fables. Later, Joseph Jacobs wrote "Androcles and the Lion." these stories can be read here
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (68 of 102), Read 45 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 10:21 AM Perhaps the searches here should center on St. Jerome or on St.Jerome and his lion rather than the lion with a thorn removed from a paw. Specifying both Jerome and the lion should lead to THAT tale, no? Dottie -- not searching except through Norris's books when I go upstairs ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (69 of 102), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 11:08 AM Ruth- Somehow I'd missed your post on chiaroscuro. Hence my follow up "don't understand" post. Sorry about that. You and Dean have clarified that passage for me. Wow - Ondaatje doesn't miss a beat, does he? Makes me wonder what all passed right over my head. This one demands a re-read. Dean- Loved you analysis of Patrick's choices. Very clever. Dottie- My original search on Google was for St. Jerome Lion, and all that came up were the paintings. I'll keep searching. The Catholic Encyclopedia doesn't reference a lion. Off to Surfland.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (70 of 102), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 11:55 AM I promise I'll see what Norris had to say. ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (71 of 102), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 04:29 PM What are we to make of all the references to water? One passage that particularly intrigued me was when Caravaggio happens upon Anne's place at the lake. He's made a phone call to Gianetta to tell her of his escape, and is startled to realize Anne knows he's at her lake house. They talk for a while, and she invites him to stay. Caravaggio refuses. Then Anne says, "I have literally fallen in love with the lake. I dread the day I will have to leave it. Tonight I was writing the first love poem I have written in years and the lover was the sound of lakewater. I've always had a fear of water creatures. But water is benign. Yes, I know. Goodbye, Anne" I'm not sure how to interpret this passage in light of the running themes - dark/light, water, moths, searching,........
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (72 of 102), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 05:13 PM Kay: Here's a possibility: http://users.erols.com/saintpat/ss/0930.htm (found by searching for "Saint Jerome" lion) David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (73 of 102), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 05:45 PM Don’t know where my head was before. Here are 3 Caravaggio St. Jeromes for you. And a link to a zillion St Js by other artists. http://www.artcyclopedia.com/scripts/tsearch.pl?t=St.+Jerome&type=2 Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (74 of 102), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 07:41 PM David- I can't get the page to load. Will try again later. Ruth- Thanks for the pics of St. Jerome. Looks just like I did while trying to get through WOTD.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (75 of 102), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Friday, January 19, 2001 10:04 PM Kay, Aw come on, WOTD wasn't THAT hard! Ann
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (76 of 102), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 02:52 AM David and Ruth -- WONDERFUL links!! What fun! The web IS a wondrous tool even though at times it seems like a behemoth that needs taming. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (77 of 102), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 07:50 AM Ann- LOL! Well, let's just put it this way. At times I felt as if it would take a lifetime to finish. That skull really struck a bell. Ok. I'll hush now. Back to TSOAL and our old buddy St. Jerome.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (78 of 102), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 08:54 AM Absolutely wonderful notes, everyone. I want to loan this book to so many people and then have them read the topic on the Constant Reader webpage. Thank you so much for all of the searching that you've done for the references. SPOILER ALERT: I also had forgotten the fact that the story was being told to Hana. It would have calmed my fears that Patrick would most certainly be killed in the Palace of Water. We spend a lot of time in Canada, especially Toronto. Many, many of the place names used were accurate in this story. There is definitely a Don Valley, a Bloor Street Viaduct, a Danforth Avenue and a Yonge Street. Since someone mentioned earlier that the Ambrose Small story is based on fact, I wondered how much of the rest of the story was. Canada is much more a country rich in ethnicity than the United States, to me. There doesn't seem to be the emphasis on the melting pot. This story of immigrants and their fates seems so integral to my perception of the country. I know there are a number of Canadians on CR and wonder if they can give us any insights as to the historical references. Also, do any of you know Ondaatje's ethnic background? Is it Balkan? And, what an incredible book! Thank you, Theresa, for nominating it. When you all have discussed Ondaatje's writing before here, I was busy reading other things. Then, I sort of resisted him later because he was becoming almost too popular elsewhere (not a good tendency in me). Now, I can't believe that I almost missed this experience. Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (79 of 102), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 09:34 AM Barb: Ondaantje was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1943, emigrated to England with his mother in 1954, then to Canada in 1962. The information I've find indicates that his family is of mixed origin: Indian, Sinhalese, Dutch and English. (That surname especially strikes me as Dutch.) I've not been having a lot of luck with links of late, but here's a long one. The biographical background is a bit past half-way down. http://list.gatech.edu/archives/LCC2401D/old/0062.html David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (80 of 102), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 10:47 AM Barb, You may want to try THE ENGLISH PATIENT next. Some of the same characters reappear. Ann
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (81 of 102), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 04:54 PM I was thinking the same thing, Ann. I want to follow Hana and Caravaggio a bit. Thanks for that link, David. Interesting that he was born in Sri Lanka. There seem to be a number of fascinating people with that same origin. Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (82 of 102), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 08:48 PM I am about half through, third reading of this book. It's still great! I think Lion is about displacement; transformation; finding that angle of repose. Ondaatje treats many of the themes Stegner did in his book of that name, but I think Ondaatje is the more complex writer. Water - the element that most easily changes its nature; the element which moves by its nature; element by which we move; we can't live without, and on and on. Earth, fire and air all figure prominentl as well. What I love about this book is that the metaphoric themes are clear, but not at all intrusive. Also, he is one of the few writers I've read who can honor labor and laborers, in a very poetic way and yet without being sentimental. The descriptions of people at their work; the relationship of laborers to their work are right on, I think. I still think this is O's best book. Coming Into Slaughter, another early novel, is also excellent. Also deals with disappearance, loss, and finding where one is in the world. Barb, I think you would love Running in the Family, Ondaatje's memoir of his family in Sri Lanka. It is not told in a straightforward this happened, then that happened manner. Excellent book. Theresa
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (83 of 102), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 09:52 PM Theresa, I have a Quality Paperback edition of Ondaatje that features four of his works: LION, THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID, RUNNING IN THE FAMILY, and THE CINNAMON PEELER. Have you read BILLY or CINNAMON? Jane
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (84 of 102), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 10:16 PM I've read Cinnamon, Jane. It's poetry. I wasn't much taken with it, but I probably should give it another go. Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (85 of 102), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, January 20, 2001 11:33 PM Barb, I second Theresa's recommendation of RUNNING WITH THE FAMILY. I liked it the best of the three Ondaatje books I have read. Ann
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (86 of 102), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 08:39 AM Given my current interest in Sri Lanka, and in Ondaatje, I think Running With the Family is definitely in my future. Also, we have a good friend who was born there, then moved to London, England and now runs a restaurant with his wife's family in Windsor, Ontario. In the course of things, he was an actor as well. His general cultivation (old-fashioned word, but the best I could think of) and emphasis on a certain ascetic is striking. Theresa, I absolutely agree with you about Ondaatje's treatment of laborers and avoiding sentimentality. I think it also encompassed his descriptions of the ethnicity of those laborers. Underlying it all is an emphatic respect and acceptance. Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (87 of 102), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 09:46 AM Barb- Your comment about how Canadians don't put as much an emphasis on the melting pot is interesting. I can see how that attitude would allow for more diversity. The implications for a country are interesting, and I can see many benefits. Do you think Canada has fewer problems overall due to cultural and ethnic differences than the US because of that low pressure to conform? Interesting. I have some friends in my in person book group who hail from Canada, and will ask them about this when I see them.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (88 of 102), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 09:51 AM I'd be very interested in their reaction, Kay. My impression in Canada is that they have fewer problems with this except for the celebrated differences between the French-Canadians and others, of course. However, I'm looking at it as an outside so I could certainly be wrong. Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (89 of 102), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 10:02 AM Barb, I am sure that RUNNING WITH THE FAMILY will hold your interest. Sri Lanka is a fascinating setting, and Ondaatje has some very interesting relatives, to say the least. Alcoholism and mental problems severely affected some of them. This book is also easier to follow than his novels, which require the reader to fill in the blanks and interpolate missing explanations. Ann
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (90 of 102), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 06:49 PM Can anyone give me an idea of how Hana and Caravaggio figure in The English Patient? Also, I saw the movie, but haven't read the book. Did the movie resemble the book at all? I usually prefer to see the movie, then read the book. I'm usually not disappointed that way.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (91 of 102), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 12:38 AM Folks, it's Running IN the Family. And Coming THROUGH Slaughter. Just want to make sure everyone is able to find these excellent books. Kay, I thought English Patient the movie picked out a few strands of a complicated novel, and did a good job with those few strands. Hana is the nurse in Patient; Caravagio is, again, the thief. Patrick is there too, as an absent figure in Hana's life. A couple of things stood out for me this time. Did anyone else find Nicholas Temelcoff's (sp?) transition from dare-devil construction guy to baker a bit non-plussing? Given that this is Ondaatje, I'm sure this move from a reckless, wild life to supreme domesticity (baking, the hearth, and all that, and he's happy with a wife and kids, too) is intentional. Patrick is also a daredevil, but his attempts at love and a settled life keep blowing up in his face. Theresa
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (92 of 102), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 12:48 AM "keep blowing up in his face." Oh, Theresa, I do hope the pun was intentional. And yes, I found the daredevil to baker conversion a little disconcerting. There was mention, though, wasn't there, that before he was a construction worker he'd been a baker. So he'd have just been returning to his original occupation. But in that case, I find the baker to daredevil conversion a little disconcerting. This book is such of web of interconnection symbolism I keep wanting to tie this in, too. Anybody have any ideas on the connection between bridge-building and baking? Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (93 of 102), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 08:04 AM Ruth- Both are careers in which things "rise." Ha! I'm going to think out loud here. Ondaatje describes Nicholas as solitary. He's the one that "...knits the bridge together." He goes on to say that Temelkoff is "...happiest at daily chores.....He is a spinner. He links everyone. He meets them as they cling ......but he has none of their fear." Nicholas knows every detail of where he is at any given time, even though to others he seems like a daredevil. "It does not matter if it is day or night, he could be blindfolded. Black space is time.......He knows his position in the air as if he is mercury slipping across a map." Remember that later on, Patrick tries to show off by blindfolding himself and moving about the room, perhaps in imitation of Nicholas. But Patrick is thrown when she moves. He's not as adept as Temelkoff, and cannot handle the human element the way Nicholas can. This is what Nicholas does for Patrick - gives him a place to call home. He bridges the gap between finding life and being lost. Nicholas is a touchstone for Patrick, and very happy doing his daily chore of baking bread to nourish life.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (94 of 102), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 10:42 AM Very good, Kay. And wasn't there something about Caravaggio practising thievery by blindingfolding himself, or at least walking around in the dark, until he could move without a sound? Ruth
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (95 of 102), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 01:57 PM Kay, Read the THE ENGLISH PATIENT and then see the movie. I liked both, but the movie might interfere with your ability to fully appreciate the book if you see it first. They are really very different, but I was glad I had my own mental images of the characters before I saw the movie. Ann
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (96 of 102), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 09:08 PM For some reason, I thought that Nicholas may have quit working on the bridge after he caught the "flying nun". Maybe, the woman coming into his life like that brought about a need to settle down and raise a family. His job on the bridge was full of hazards, and a baker's job would be much more safe for a family man. Jane
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (97 of 102), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 09:48 PM Or maybe the bridge was finished. He may have just taken that job to earn money to buy a bakery. David
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (98 of 102), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, January 22, 2001 09:57 PM You're right, David. I'm almost certain that it said that it said that exact thing in the book, that buying the bakery was the purpose of the job. It was obvious that any time spent doing that work was gambling with your life. He was able to make the bet and win with constant awareness and study. This gambling side of the immigrants when paired with the ability to survive is fascinating to me and Ondaatje paints it well. What about that guy who lost his leg, was payed off by the company and thought he'd really triumphed early on in the story? I'm sorry. The book is not here with me so I'm not checking the facts. Hope I'm remembering them correctly. Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (99 of 102), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Kay Dugan (okaychatt@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2001 05:33 PM Barb- RE: your comment about the differences in the way Canada and the US treat immigrants I spoke with one of my friends who was born and raised in Canada. The other, Regina, left my book group early. I'll try to catch her next week. Karin is living in Chattanooga with her family, and still has close ties to Canada. I'll try to do her opinions justice. Karin agrees with you. She said that Canadians do not emphasize the melting pot. They have more of a live and let live philosophy. Her observation is that in the US, the expectation is that you are Americans first, and then whatever ethnic group. In Canada, the emphasis is reversed. She thinks that may account for an easier acceptance of ethnic diversity. When we tried to figure out WHY that might be so, we were stumped. The same people helped settle both countries, for the most part. When I asked her WHEN Canada became the destination of choice, she said it was primarily after WWII. That doesn't fit with ITSOAL, but I find it interesting. She also thought more were attracted to the US because we are known as a world power. The attitude in Canada is more of a "let them be the power - we don't need it." I'm trying to coax her into posting on CR, and I'm hoping she will write her own summary. Until then, we'll have to manage on my memory of what was said.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (102 of 102), Read 23 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2001 06:39 PM Kay, that definitely does fit with my impressions of Canada. I thought seriously about immigrating and living in Ontario when I was in my 20's. At that time, most of what they were doing in special education was far ahead of us. Got sick of that scrolling over each time, eh David? Barb
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (100 of 105), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Allyce Falken (allyce_rabbit@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, February 08, 2001 12:48 PM I know it has been a while since the significance of the title was the featured topic of discussion, but I realized that no one mentioned the following passage: Alice had once described a play to him in which several actresses shared the role of the heroine. After half an hour the powerful matriarch removed her large coat from which animal pelts dangled and she passed it, along with her strength, to one of the minor characters. In this way even a silent daughter could put on the cloak and be able to break through her chrysalis into language. Each person had their moment when they assumed the skins of wild animals, when they took responsibility for the story. This seems to be Ondaatje's nearest attempt at explaining the title within the story. It describes the way in which he tells stories, with the focus shifting between the many major characters, illuminating each one in turn.
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (101 of 105), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, February 08, 2001 04:34 PM Welcome, Allyce. I remember when I read that section, I underlined it, since it seemed to have a lot of significance. Then I never went back to it. Of all the books I have read in the past couple of years, this is at the top on the list for a reread. Sherry
Topic: In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje (102 of 105), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Thursday, February 08, 2001 10:10 PM Thank you for posting that, Allyce. I did much the same thing that Sherry did and it's good to have it recalled for me. Barb

 
Photo
Michael Ondaatje

 

 
Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com