Okay, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was one of those books I read after seeing the movie first. As the tag line on the cover says, the memoir tells of “one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia. I found it a good read, and though I enjoyed the movie with Julia Roberts, I found the book delightful and its pages gave the movie meaning it didn’t have before. The movie now seems more like a sketch of Gilbert’s memoir and many of the movie’s scenes that seemed perhaps bland or lacking a point gained new meaning and importance.
I have found effective memoirs to be instructive, and this read certainly taught me much more than I expected about Italy, India, and Indonesia–not only the history, but about geography, culture, religion, language, and the inner worlds of the people Gilbert encountered. We learn too about the writers, saints, and friends who have influenced her, her demons, her struggles, and her relationships (both the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t work so well). As I read, I could feel her sadness, the moments of joy, her angst, and her resolve. It was a strong woman who lived out this memoir, and an insightful one who wrote it with humor, precision, and reflection. My vocabulary was enriched (like Gilbert, I can be love-sick with language) when I encountered words and phrases like:
un’amica stretta–In Italian, a close friend that you can wear tightly, snug against your skin.
il bel far niente — the beauty of doing nothing.
codega — In Venice, a man hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern.
l’aria fritta — describes the speech of politicians who have mastered the art of speaking fried air (manipulating the media)
Antevasin — Sanskrit. It describes a person who is an in-betweener or you can call it a border-dweller. An antevasin is a scholar who lives in the sight of two worlds, but is looking toward the unknown.
monkey mind — Buddhist, describing having thoughts that swing from limb to limb.
I came away from this read wanting to learn more about meditation, about Yoga, and the three cultures Gilbert introduced us to in this memoir. This was my first read of Gilbert’s writing, and I definitely intend to read more of her works in the future. Gilbert’s website is here:
Here is the MLA Works Cited entry: (MLA)
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love. New York: Penguin, 2007.