Read In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje Free Online
Book Title: In the Skin of a Lion|
The author of the book: Michael Ondaatje
Date of issue: August 12th 1987
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 377 KB
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Loaded: 2559 times
Reader ratings: 3.2
ISBN 13: 9780394563633
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“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.”
Skins, whether real or metaphorical, feature quite prominently in this novel about early twentieth century Toronto. In fact, there are over thirty references to skin in this novel. Author Michael Ondaatje introduces us to a city with a vibrant, multicultural mix of people and exciting projects such as ”The bridge. The bridge. Christened ‘Prince Edward.’ The Bloor Street Viaduct.” He takes us to the tanners: ”Circular pools had been cut into the stone – into which the men leapt waist-deep within the reds and ochres and greens, leapt in embracing the skins of recently slaughtered animals." "They had leapt into different colours as if into different countries.” And later in the showers: ”They stood under the hot pipes, not noticeably changing for two or three minutes – as if, like an actress unable to return to the real world from a role, they would be forever contained in that livid colour, only their brains free of it. And then the blue suddenly dropped off, the colour disrobed itself from the body, fell in one piece to their ankles, and they stepped out, in the erotica of being made free.” And talking about skins, the professional thief, Caravaggio, for a brief period of time also acquires a bright blue skin, a liberating skin so to speak. As the city is being transformed, so too these workers change from being newly arrived immigrants, shed their old skins and become part of the city and its history.
Initially the plot seems a little fragmented, but hang in there as all these different strands are soon woven into a cohesive tale. It follows the story of the main protagonist, Patrick Lewis, who arrives in Toronto from the Canadian wilderness. Here he occupies various jobs, finds love, and learns some local history. We follow Patrick through his adventures, struggles and transformations which blend with the struggles of the workers and the history of Toronto and its landmarks.
The prose is beautiful and often has a dreamlike quality.
“Now, in the city, he was new even to himself, the past locked away.”
“He undreams himself, remembers she has left him.”
“Official histories, news stories surround us daily, but the events of art reach us too late, travel languorously like messages in a bottle.”
“He has always been alien, the third person in the picture. He is the one born in this country who knows nothing of the place.”
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Read information about the authorHe was born to a Burgher family of Dutch-Tamil-Sinhalese-Portuguese origin. He moved to England with his mother in 1954. After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. Ondaatje studied for a time at Bishops College School and Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec, but moved to Toronto and received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and began teaching at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. In 1970 he settled in Toronto. From 1971 to 1988 he taught English Literature at York University and Glendon College in Toronto.
He and his wife, novelist and academic Linda Spalding, co-edit Brick, A Literary Journal, with Michael Redhill, Michael Helm, and Esta Spalding.
Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film.
Ondaatje has, since the 1960s, also been involved with Toronto's influential Coach House Books, supporting the independent small press by working as a poetry editor.
In 1988 Michael Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC) and two years later became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
He has two children and is the brother of philanthropist, businessman, and author Christopher Ondaatje.
In 1992 he received the Man Booker Prize for his winning novel adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film, The English Patient.
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