S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Religious Studies (종교학과) 종교학연구(Journal of Religious Studies) 종교학연구(Journal of Religious Studies) 35집(2017)
카발라로 본 얀 마텔의 『라이프 오브 파이』 연구
A Study on Yann Martel’s Life of Pi in the Perspective of Kabbalah
- Issue Date
- 종교학연구, Vol. 35 pp. 73-97
- 카발라; 파이이야기; 라이프 오브 파이; 문학 해석; 문학과 종교; Kabbalah; Life of Pi; Interpretation of literature; Literature and religion
- Yann Martel’s bestseller novel Life of Pi tells a story about an Indian boy who drifted with a Bengal tiger for 227 days. Academic studies dealt with this novel for two parts –an event and the interpretation of an event –mainly in the light of literary theory, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, postmodernism.
This study uses Kabbalah as an interpretive tool, which is hidden in the text and tries to find out that religious tradition could be an effective frame for literature.
Pi’s three names(Piscine-Pissing-Pi) has a distinct connection with Kabbalistic theosophy and the doctrine of creation. It represents the ultimate god as Ein Sof (Pi) and god’s attributes(Piscine/Pissing). Piscine can be read as a divine soul in every human being. In this perspective, Richard Parker, who originally has a name “thirsty” can be animal part in the human soul. So Pi and Richard Parker make a pair of a soul and their castaway story is a spiritual journey that the divine soul transcends over the animal soul.
The spatial structure of the story (India, Pondicherry –the Pacific – Canada) also could be read as a metaphor for the spiritual process in Kabbalistic thought. In this reading, the traumatic events that a ship named ‘tsimtsum’ wrecked and people died can be transformed as a universal condition of humanity. And the change of relationship between Pi and Richard Parker, cannibalistic island and the arrival at the Mexico beach turns into a transformation and a return to the essence of a soul.
The relationship between reality and story, storytelling and interpretation, speaker and listener also show similarity in the Kabbalistic view about language, text, story and god. Literature and religion have been effected human in a form of story and both can contain holiness in them. So understanding religious tradition can be an effective tool for an interpretation of literature as the case of Life of Pi.