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Soul Mountain

by Gao Xingjian

A traveller dreamily roams the countryside, villages and cities of China in search of a present and a past. The stories of the people he meets reveal parts of the multi-layered history of China.

Extract

The dark cypress at the entrance to the village has been lashed by frost and the leaves have turned a deep red. Beneath it, a man with an ashen face is leaning on a hoe. You ask him the name of the village. His eyes look right at you but he doesn't reply. You turn to her and say the fellow is a grave robber. She bursts out laughing. Once past him she says in your ear, he's got mercury poisoning. You say he stayed in the crypt too long. There were two of them, the other one died from mercury poisoning but he survived.
Translated by Mabel Lee

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