Top critical review
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For everyone to read, for some to be impressed
on 16 July 2011
After all the hype that accompanied the book when it was recommended to me, I was expecting a mind-blowing intellectual feast. Sadly, it didn't happen.
I appreciate what Karinthy is trying to achieve and I'm certain this book could be life-changing for some people. For me, however, it seemed recycled and lacked consistency in quality. In the first third I couldn't escape the feeling that crudely moulded ideas were getting chiseled into my mind ("Yes, I get your point. I don't need this 14th example of the same stage of Budai's life."). Then it picks up, but the ending is predictable. It reminds me of a chick flick ending.
The question of language is tackled well. It can open your eyes to a whole range of questions of cognition and perception: activating schemata to aid interpretation of one's surroundings, language acquisition, etc. I wonder how much a non-linguistally-trained reader would take home from this book. For a linguist, it's neither here, nor there: too analytical for just-a-good-novel, but lacking the depth of insight that would leave a linguistically-aware person thinking.
Overall, a good read. For some people. Worth reading, if only to form your own opinion.