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Readings of In the Skin of a Lion

Uploaded by nicole2961985 on Jul 06, 2002

“Any critical reading of a text will be strengthened by a knowledge of how a text is valued by readers in differing contexts.”

Discuss this statement and show how your critical understanding of the text has been strengthened by at least two different readings.

Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion is a text that is given new meaning when viewed from differing perspectives. Readers approach the text with their own unique past and experience, which influences their perception and interpretation of the novel. Two such interpretations are the Post-Modern and Post-Colonial readings of In the Skin of a Lion. These two readings give the text more dimension, and with the awareness that this novel can be interpreted in numerous ways, a reader’s understanding is strengthened and deepened.

Post-Modernism, the absence of any certainty, discredits the values of modernism, opposing the fixed principles of meaning and value. It is built on countless theories about society, the media and knowledge of the world, but it is also aware that there is no ultimate way of making sense of humanity. Ondaatje embraces aspects of post-modernism, by creating a novel that breaks away from the traditional narrative, thereby giving readers a greater perspective on the novel. One learns that any story is simply a storyteller’s construction, and is never unbiased.

In the Skin of a Lion is self reflexive- it disrupts the reading process to explore its own textual nature. Ondaatje breaks the illusion of reality and engages the reader in the process of making the meaning of the text, rather than simply allowing them to receive it. The responder is made a producer rather than simply a consumer. “Only the best art can order the chaotic tumble of events. Only the best can realign chaos to suggest both the chaos and order it will become.” Here, Ondaatje uses the device of intrusion, where an author makes a direct comment on his novel, telling readers to be patient and wait for the intentional disarray to fall into its natural order.

This “chaos” is also created through the use of frame- a story within a story. Towards the conclusion of the novel, the corners of the story are pulled together and readers are able to close the frame that encapsulated the inner story. The car ride is the result of Ondaatje’s ability to transcend time and space- the story ends at the beginning of the novel...

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Uploaded by:   nicole2961985

Date:   07/06/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,136 words)

Views:   2182

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