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Ilhem

Ilhem

Samarcande - Amin Maalouf “At the bottom of the Atlantic, there is a book. I am going to tell you its history. (…) Six years after the event, I am still obsessed by this object of flesh and ink, whose unworthy guardian I was“ - Benjamin Omar Lesage.Amin Maalouf said about his work as a novelist that he tried to build positive myths. That describes Samarkand so well!In this book, he gave Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat a long lost manuscript with Persia’s history in its marge, found by his fictional narrator Benjamin O. Lesage only to be lost again and become a priceless sunken treasure.Like Vartan the Armenian who annoted Omar’s poems, Amin Maalouf imagined a biography as if the quatrains had revealed a secret from now on known by him only and intertwined it with the fates of Nizam al-Mulk, 'Order of the Kingdom' and Hassan Sabbah , the 'Old Man of the Mountain' who founded the order of the Assassins.The (hi)story begins when Omar Khayyam, polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and poet appears before a judge who not only releases him but gives him a manuscript to record his thoughts, to keep them secure and him safe until the world is ready to receive them. It ends after the Persian Constitutional Revolution. Samarkand is a novel but it is first and foremost a chronicle where the author reflects upon History, power, violence, identity, the relationship between East and West…I wasn’t so much enthralled by the fiction as deeply interested in the underlying essay and delighted to stop once in a while, just to take the time to savour Omar Khayyam’s quatrains which are beyond rating for me.Note : I read Samarkan in its original French version but it is also available in an English edition, translated by Russell Harris. It is where the quote comes from.[bc:Samarkand|142395|Samarkand|Amin Maalouf|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327995121s/142395.jpg|2944319]