A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Essay

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Semansky publishes widely in the field of twentieth- century culture and literature. In the following essay, he discusses the different kinds of knowing represented in "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain."

Robert Olen Butler's story, "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain," focuses intently on the last phase of an old man's life. In it, we see a character, Dao, tempted away from the Buddhist beliefs that have determined his actions since he was a young man. Butler takes a piece of history—Ho Chi Minh's time working in a hotel in London—and uses it as a conceit in the story, making Dao the friend who went to Europe with him. The story unfolds as a long intermittent dream, with episodes of illusion followed by reciprocal episodes of reality. All the episodes are given equal weight so that, with Dao, the reader must search...

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This section contains 1,919 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Study Guide
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A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.