Life Of Pi Literature Analysis

1143 Words 5 Pages
Bestsellers to Blockbusters:
Life of Pi and the Rise of Popular Literary Culture

In his book Bring on the Books for Everybody: How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture, Jim Collins, as the title suggests, examines how literature has changed from a private, print-based experience, to a social experience open to a much wider audience. He argues that infrastructural changes (such as superstores, blockbuster film adaptations, and television book clubs) and cultural changes (such as the devaluation of traditional taste brokers) have resulted in a flourishing reading public comprised of more amateur readers. Indeed, Collins suggests that “the notion that refined taste, or the information needed to enjoy sophisticated cultural pleasures, is now
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It does indulge a particular narrative about the transformative power of literature and aesthetic beauty, but the way materialism and consumerism are presented is more ambiguous than in Collins’ examples. Also, though the judges’ panel of the 2002 Booker prize highlighted Life of Pi as suitable for a general reader, Martel’s metafictional and postmodern techniques raise the question as to whether the book may require readers to have a certain education to understand all his religious and intertextual allusions. But at its heart, Life of Pi is deeply and obviously interested in storytelling, and I believe its message about the importance and ‘real effect’ of stories places it firmly as a novel in this trend of popular literary …show more content…
As Florence Stratton says, Life of Pi is “organized around a philosophical debate about the modern world’s privileging of reason over imagination, science over religion, materialism over idealism, fact over fiction or story” (6). At every point in Pi’s journey, he needs both knowledge and hope to survive, and Pi acquires them mostly from stories, literature, and reading. In the first part of the book, Pi talks about his childhood growing up in a zoo. “It was paradise on earth,” he says (14), “designed and run according to the most modern, biologically sound principles” (12). This Eden, built according to science, allows Pi to develop knowledge of animal behaviour, in particular animal habitats and social hierarchies, which he uses to survive 227 days on the lifeboat with Richard Parker, the tiger. While this knowledge is scientific, at this stage in his life Pi has not formally studied zoology. His information must come from other sources, such as his father the zookeeper and the “workday talk of running a zoo” (10). The effect of having Pi narrate the novel in first person emphasises oral storytelling, and Pi’s references to things people “commonly say in the trade” and “the zoo business” (29; 89) suggest this knowledge is passed through discussion (indeed, this is how the author, and

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