Posts tagged ‘Romance’

February 2, 2011

In The Skin Of A Lion, a beautiful blur

by alanahansen

Michael Ondaatje, Canadian novelist and poet is arguably best known for his passionate imagery, impacting use of metaphor and peculiar vision. Ondaatje’s breathtaking poetic novel In The Skin Of A Lion (published in 1987) is a remarkable narrative which conveys the stories forgotten by history, the nameless faces, the sweat, the blood and the tears rooted in the historic creation of a city.  This novel, one of history, romance and friendship captivates through Ondaatje’s powerful language, pulling the reader into anarchic Toronto during the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. The reader enters into the laborious lives of the immigrants and minorities who built the city, the ones whose hearts remain embedded in the concrete.

Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion is broken up into three parts, each providing intricate and passionate connections between them. The novel begins with the unusual entrance into the childhood life of Patrick Lewis. His childhood, silent and desolate brings forth the absence of identity, proving to be significant, the true meaning behind the title In the Skin of a Lion. Patrick embarks on a journey, a journey of finding his own identity, his own personal story.

As Patrick parts from his childhood he moves to Toronto as a searcher where he crosses paths with a fearless baker, a wealthy man, a stunning actress, a passionate nun and a daring thief whose lives intertwine, serving as stepping-stones towards Patrick’s moment of transformation.  Patrick encounters romance and friendship, impacted by each story as he progresses. Ondaatje’s incorporation of several interlaced stories also emphasizes the hardship and struggle that was endured during the construction of the city.

As Patrick seeks for self-discovery, Ondaatje’s true motive approaches the surface, emerging from his extensive metaphors. Ondaatje draws attention to the fact that there is more than one version of reality. He aims to tell the story through the eyes of someone with little known identity, through the silenced unhistorical voices of Toronto; the ones that no one knew existed. “A man is an extension of hammer, drill, flame” (172). Ondaatje exemplifies the issue of history and interpretation by incorporating John Berger’s epigraph: “Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one”(3), voicing that no story should stand-alone. By incorporating mini narratives within the novel and by knitting together the different characters Ondaatje leaves the reader feeling challenged and bewildered.

Ondaatje beautifully blurs our idea of what is real and what is imagined, contrasting fact with fiction, leaving one unsure of what he or she has just read. With the use of his unique language, there is a certain harmony provided between the three parts. Although a complicated read, Ondaatje provides the reader with a thoughtful entrance into the novel, allowing he or she the opportunity to flow through each chapter. The dreamlike atmosphere in the third section is elaborate and is not ideal for the narrow-minded. His use of metaphor leaves the reader dazed but also allows for reflection as we discover that the end of the novel is truly only the beginning of the story.

February 2, 2011

The City of Love

by brittlu

Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion is a novel revolving around love and romance, conflict and mystery set in the developing city of Toronto based in the 20’s and 30’s. Ondaatje mixes a blend of fact and fictional characters whose lives and stories come to life through poetry and a beautiful sense of realism and visualization. We are immersed into the minds of immigrants who built the city concentrating on Patrick Lewis, who grew up on a Canadian farm, later moving to Toronto. Feeling lost in his own “home” he soon realizes that he is surrounded by foreign men and women making up the politically powerful, bridge and tunnel builders, a millionaire who has mysteriously disappeared, thieves, lovers and friends.

The characters in this story are passionately drawn out for the reader yet not overly analyzed. Through the different sections of the novel from “Little Seeds” to “Maritime theatre” Ondaatje takes us into the minds of the characters and lets us into their lives by the use of illusion. The way he describes the workers in the tunnels, the men building the bridge and the romance between two lovers lets the reader feel and live within the character in times of conflict and struggle.

As we follow Patrick Lewis from being a young boy and maturing into a man we discover real passion, romance and struggle which are occurring themes in this novel. The idea of romance revolves around the character Clara Dickens, who is described to be the “perfect women” and a “rare lover” in the section “The Searcher”. Ondaatje depicts the character of Clara Dickens to be very desirable and beautiful, but in the novel he describes her as a typical woman; however, with the use of language and imagery, he allows the readers to believe that she is really this perfect human being.

Ondaatje captures the raw emotions and struggling conflict with the use of poetry and visualization. This novel is beautifully written with the lack of linear structure which kept me interested and focused on the stories of his characters. Romance was not confined to just love scenes but really was portrayed within the passion and conflict between Patrick and the rest of the characters. I would highly recommend In the Skin of a Lion to anybody who wants to immerse themselves into history, poetry and romance. Dig yourself into raw emotion of those who devoted their time in building what Toronto is today.

Word count: 410

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February 1, 2011

Love is More than an Illusion

by chrislansigan

An entertaining and enthusiastic romantic novel by Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion represents historical figures of love, hatred, and friendship between adequately emotional characters, male and female. The elegant plot follows these characters aggressively, as the narrator peers into their minds and reveals all their true meanings. The general focus is directed towards Patrick Lewis, who is mentally lost in a new land by labour and love. Ondaatje uses an excessive amount of serene and peaceful illusions through his poetry, from the section titles to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs in each chapter.

As an initial grasping romantic piece would, the introduction draws in explicit realism and visualization to what Patrick is experiencing as he matures from a young boy to a young man. That being said, the story utterly subjugates itself into depicting a sense of love. Love that is, indefinitely, subjected towards the character of Clara Dickens. Ondaatje, in the section “The Searcher”, uses her to depict the perfect, beautiful woman that will dazzle and catch the eye of any man within sight. He describes her as a typical woman would seem to look, but adds more persuasive illusion to make her ultimately desirable. Such simplistic description puts forth the scene of darkness during the serious, resentful times.

Ondaatje tended to focus on the introduction of characters relevant to the story throughout the novel separately. Certain characters, such as Patrick Lewis and Nicholas Temelcoff, are introduced during their younger years before the main plot, which gives us as the readers a sense of what they had experienced and how that experience affected the main storyline. This initiates a better understanding that shows how these certain characters were connected to the others introduced already or in the future.

Certain illusion can be described through imagination and dreams, as Caravaggio went through. Conducting a nightmare, his past is revealed through the brutal memories of being in prison, and the dream is all musty and dark, bringing forth the concept of darkness over light. The contrast to this is when Patrick, at the end of the book, says “lights”. That word is used interestingly at the end of the novel to depict how Patrick had come up with the conclusion at the end that light was the answer to destroy the darkness that haunted him and others.

Ondaatje’s use of preliminary illusion explains that a true love story isn’t always about the pictures drawn in our heads by adorable phrases. To be one with love, one must fully embrace the historical roots of the primary focus, in which case is certain women. For the many of you that enjoy a love story that goes beyond the boundaries of typical lust and vengeance, this novel is an asset to the knowledge of romance. Ondaatje is the one poetic writer that can really strain much emphasis on poetic writing, for his works create no less than artistic poetry through a novel, and a love story.