"The old bus is a city reject." The first sentence introduces one of the many themes of the book: the clash between the past and the present. The twentieth century's cultural revolution has been a period of turbulent change in China. The transformation from a crippled empire into a modern nation has involved painful and often damaging political and social adjustments.
Note the "you" pronoun, Xingjian's use of the second person point of view becomes important as you read further. I think of Calvino's "On a Winter's Night a Traveler"- the use of "you" is personal and intimate, the author is talking directly to you, the reader.
"...you arrive in a mountain country town..."
"...you stand with your backpack..."
"... you find yourself..."
David Der-Wei Wang's interview with Gao Xingjian, as interpreted from Chinese by Daniel Fertig., says,"the second you bring in "you," the second person, it becomes a dialogue, and it becomes a trading of thoughts between people. The use of "you" creates a dialogue.
In the second paragraph you realize you are the “tourist" or the outsider. The locals have been here for many generations.
"People here speak with a unique intonation even though they are descendants of the same legendary emperor and are of the same culture and race."
About now, I feel like I have entered an episode from the "Twilight Zone."
"You can’t explain why you’re here. It happened that you were on a train and this person mentioned a place called Lingshan."
Lingshan means soul or spirit mountain.
"You’d been to lots of places, visited lots of famous mountains, but had never heard of this place."
Who doesn’t love the home of their ancestors?
"This type of scarf, and how it’s tied, dates back many generations but is seldom seen these days"
Introduction from Harper Collins: A man is diagnosed with lung cancer -- precisely the same cancer that had proved deadly to his father not long before -- and then is surprised to discover in a follow-up visit to the doctor that he is in fact perfectly healthy. And, the good news is not delivered with the amount of sensitivity that a new lease on life would seem to merit -- describing the attending doctor, the book reads, "'Go and live properly, young man.' He swiveled his chair around, dismissing me." So begins Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain. It is from this peculiar and clear-eyed position that a journey begins through the remote mountains of China. The narrator explores rural villages and reflects on the influence that the Cultural Revolution has had on the people and the land, and reveals a rich inner life and a poignant search of meaning and a sense of purpose.
In 1983, Chinese playwright, critic, fiction writer, and painter Gao Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer and faced imminent death.But six weeks later, a second examination revealed there was no cancer—he had won "a second reprieve from death." Faced with a repressive cultural environment and the threat of a spell in a prison farm, Gao fled Beijing and began a journey of 15,000 kilometers into the remote mountains and ancient forests of Sichuan in southwest China. The result of this epic voyage of discovery is Soul Mountain.
Bold, lyrical, and prodigious, Soul Moutain probes the human soul with an uncommon directness and candor and delights in the freedom of the imagination to expand the notion of the individual self.
I'm an expert amateur or maybe an amateur expert.