Compass

Compass

Book - 2017
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"As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East. With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias Énard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources―nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie―and binds them together in a most magical way."--Provided by the publisher.
Publisher: New York :, New Directions,, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780811226622
081122662X
Characteristics: 447 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Mandell, Charlotte - Translator

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lukasevansherman
May 02, 2019

"The Orient is an imaginal construction, an ensemble of representations from which everyone picks what they like, wherever they are."
Erudite and idiosyncratic novel about, well, many, many things. The protagonist is an anxious, insomniac musicologist in love with a brilliant academic. The book is about the interactions and interplay between West and East and the construct of the "Orient" (see Edward Said) and how it has been a source of fear, fantasy, and inspiration for centuries. There are dozens of names of people and places and it can be easy to get lost if you're not reading carefully. But it's dazzlingly intellectual and brings in so much history and so many ideas that you'll feel like you've just eaten a big, rich meal. Translated from French.

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