What emotional nourishment might "Life of Pi" have provided to its author, Yann Martel?

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Pi's story and its ability to affect the human spirit renewed Yann Martel's belief in the power of a truly good story, and art itself. In the author's note at the beginning of Life of Pi, Martel discusses the book's importance in his life. Martel refers to a period of failure in his writing career. He became disillusioned with writing and the art of storytelling until he was told the story that gave way to this book. His newfound source of inspiration reminded him of the proven value that imagination and storytelling have.

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In Yann Martel's novel Life of Pithere is, at the beginning of the novel, an author's note. It is here that Martel says, "This book was born as I was hungry." He goes on to describe the debut of his second novel, which was released in Canada and received poor reviews and very little reader interest. What is interesting about this author's note is that it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a part of the novel itself or merely a commentary by the author. The author's note is written in italics, as are the interjections of the author throughout the novel, as he is a sort of narrator. It's left to the reader to infer whether the author's note is a part of the book or an explanation of the origins of the novel. In my opinion, it's part of the brilliance of Life of Pi.

Taken at the level of what the text directly states, the author was searching for a truly great story. The emotional fulfillment he got from being hungry and in search of this great story was the thrill of discovery of the story of Piscine Patal. In the author's note, Martel meets a man in India who tells him, "I have a story for you that will make you believe in God." Such a treasure is certainly emotional fulfilling for a writer who seeks the truth and beauty of a life-changing story. Martel speaks of the lack of this fulfillment in the author's note:

"It's a misery peculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is good, as are your sentences. Your characters are so ruddy with life they practically need birth certificates. The plot you've mapped out for them is grand, simple and gripping. You've done your research,gathering the facts—historical, social, climatic, culinary—that will give your story its feel of authenticity. The dialogue zips along, crackling with tension. The descriptions burst with colour, contrast and telling detail. Really, your story can only be great. But it all adds up to nothing. In spite of the obvious, shining promise of it, there comes a moment when you realize that the whisper that has been pestering you all along from the back of your mind is speaking the flat, awful truth: it won't work. An element is missing, that spark that brings to life a real story, regardless of whether the history or the food is right. Your story is emotionally dead, that's the crux of it. The discovery is soul-destroying, I tell you. It leaves you with an aching hunger." 

The story of Pi, his search for God as a young boy which propels him to join three major religions, and then his incredible survival of the shipwreck is a story that is charged with emotional life. The fact that he survives the shipwreck on board a lifeboat which contains two predators and two other exotic animals is extraordinary. Pi's fear, longing, and eventual victory become something that readers can feel deeply, getting lost in the experience of the book, which, as an author, was what Martel longed for. When the ship's investigators refuse to believe the story of the tiger, hyena, orangutan, and zebra aboard the lifeboat, another layer is added to the story as Pi transforms the animals into humans with the behaviors as the animals. It truly is a novel that causes readers to think and feel long after they've finished reading.

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Before Yann Martel wrote "Life of Pi," he had written 2 previous novels that had completely flopped.  They didn't get very good reviews, and had little or no success in the market.  He was feeling completely discouraged about writing, and about the power of a really good story to have any impact or success in our world.  He was hungry for validation that stories, imagination, and a good tale was still something that could add a lot of meaning, enjoyment and success to one's life.  He traveled a lot, drifting aimlessly, trying to find a good idea for a story.  He was hungry for a good tale, one that would capture his imagination and his excitement.  While he was traveling in India, he read a book about a man and a panther on a lifeboat--Martel thought to himself, that's it!  THAT's the great story idea that I have been hungering for.  If it hadn't been for Martel's searching for a great story that lights the imagination, if it hadn't been for his hunger for that validation in this world, "Life of Pi" might have never been written.  Despite the fact that his 2 previous novels flopped, he still hungered for a story that would succeed, not only in the world, but in restoring his faith in the power of the imagination.

A major theme of "Life of Pi" itself is that of imagination and its power to make life wonderful and fulfilling.  In fact, he compares life without imagination or storytelling as "dry, yeastless factuality," and presents the animal story as an alternative to that horrid and awful reality that might have been.  Little Pi asks his Japanese interregators at the end which story they like better, and they readily admit, "The story with the animals."  Martel is asserting that stories, imagination, a good tale, makes for a better existence here on earth.  He found the idea for the story because he was hungering for a good idea, and the entire theme of the story is that of feasting on the power of the imagination.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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In his introductory note, Yann Martel says, “this book was born as i was hungry”, what sort of emotional nourishment might “Life of Pi” have given to its author? 

We should note that the author's introduction to "Life of Pi" is probably fictional. It is merely a story-within-a-story that is meant to lend some depth and legitimacy to the narrative. This method of introduction has been more or less common throughout the history of literature, although if you look at the Romantic/Gothic period there is an abundance of "found" stories, such as those where a diary or a message in a bottle leads the narrator to the rest of the tale, putting the reader in the place of being just as skeptical as the narrator. 

The statement that the author was hungry is not literal, but metaphorical. The author has failed to gain notice for their writing and is seeking inspiration and, ultimately, a successful book from the perspective of sales and reviews. The author craves legitimacy and inspiration. We might also interpret this to mean that the author was literally hungry, or nearing hunger, due to not having an income from their writing, but I think this is disqualified by the fact that they had enough money to travel to India. 

I think the "emotional nourishment" was found in the story being unique, meaningful and just fantastic enough to feel both believable and fantastic; it was exactly the sort of story that the author wanted to write. We might go further and analyze the actual content of the story and hypothesize its effects on the author, but I don't think this is relevant to the author's initial position. For example, the story is said to "make you believe in God" but this concept is introduced long after the author makes this initial statement, so I don't think it can be construed that the author is hungry for spiritual belief. 

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In his introductory note, Yann Martel says,"This book was born as I was hungry." What sort emotional nourishment might Life of Pi have given to its author?

Canadian author Yann Martel believes that there is a strong relationship between religion, faith, and storytelling.

I’ve always been struck how . . . religion is profoundly narrative. All religions convey stories and I think that speaks to who we are as a species.

Life of Pi clearly shows this attitude of Martel through the character of Pi, and I believe that simply exploring Pi's unique outlook on life, faith, and religion wound up being emotionally nourishing for the author. Creating a character is hard work, and authors will frequently build characters around what the author knows and feels from personal experiences. That doesn't make a character a direct reflection of an author, but it does lead toward a more credible character. As Martel himself believes in the power of religious narratives, he is able to share those feelings with readers through the very lovable character of Pi. Putting his own feelings on paper through Pi's thoughts most likely helped Martel organize and more fully explain his own personal belief set.

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Yann Martel says in his introductory note, "This book was born as I was hungry." What sort of emotional nourishment might Life of Pi have given to its author?

The opening line of Martel's introduction says, "This book was born as I was hungry," but the next line says, "Let me explain" (vii). Martel then describes how he faced failure as a writer in the 1990s. This failure left him hungry for success for a very long time. As with any dream that seems to fail, a person will either give up or fight harder to achieve it. Failure also breeds discouragement, which Martel describes as follows:

". . . the whisper that has been pestering you all along from the back of your mind . . . speaking the flat, awful truth: it won't work" (viii).

Martel further explains that he felt as though an element was missing from his work. He compares this missing element of his story to a missing ingredient that makes a particular recipe work just right. Because of this missing ingredient, the author says that his story felt "emotionally dead," and it left him "with an aching hunger" (ix). Not only was Martel hungry for success, but he was also hungry for a secret ingredient for a novel--something original. When the idea of Life of Pi presented itself, Martel realized its unique value and pursued it. As a result, Martel was emotionally fed because he knew he had finally found a good story worth writing. Furthermore, the success that he found from Life of Pi drove away discouragement so he could finally feel emotionally satisfied with his career.

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