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The Other Shore Summary
Gao Xingjian

Everything you need to understand or teach The Other Shore by Gao Xingjian.

  • The Other Shore Summary & Study Guide

The Other Shore Summary


The play's title refers to the concept of "paramita" or "nirvana," the land of enlightenment in Buddhism. According to Buddhist belief, humans experience an actual visible life full of suffering, but by living according to the virtues of "paramita"—morality, patience, meditation and wisdom—they can cross the "river of life" to the other shore and experience enlightenment.

The Other Shore reveals many themes and traits characteristic of Xingjian's writing. Thematically, the play addresses issues of collectivism and individualism—themes that Xingjian has addressed throughout his career, and ones that are considered to be highly political in the Communist Chinese context. The Other Shore also addresses the more personal theme of salvation: the actors cross the river of life to reach nirvana, only to find that nirvana does not exist.

Stylistically Xingjian is considered avant-garde; his works seldom follow conventional narrative modes, and The Other Shore is no exception...

(read more from the Study Guide)

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