Saturday, 31 July 2010

Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch

by Dai Sijie
What is the Theatre of the Absurd to a Westerner, is Socialist Realism to us.
A maxim whose author I can’t remember right now.

This novel follows the (mis)adventures of Mr Muo, the first Chinese psychoanalyst, in his epic struggle with Chinese judicial system. In his quest, he narrowly avoids marrying Mrs Thatcher, survives the attack of murderous Lolo bandits, and meets the mysterious Old Observer of Panda Droppings (whom I mentally picture as Yoda). Hilarious stuff throughout.

The only regret is that I could not read this book in the language of Voltaire. (The French title, Le Complexe de Di, is a play on le complexe d’Oedipe and the name of Muo’s nemesis, the dreaded Judge Di. I suspect more puns are lost in translation.) Perplexingly, the English text of the Anchor edition is very different from that of the Vintage edition, even though both appear to be translated by Ina Rilke.

Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch

1 comment:

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