V. N. KIRPICHENKO
Doctor of Philological Sciences
D. A. MUBARAKOVA (Uzbekistan)
Post-graduate student of the Uzbek State Institute of Oriental Studies
Gamal al-Ghitani (p. 9.5.1945) is one of the largest and most widely read Egyptian prose writers, a prominent representative of the Arabic "new novel", or rather, of the direction that, having mastered the forms and writing techniques of Western modernist literature, at the same time focuses on the national cultural heritage, uses historical documents, traditions,and traditions. images and genre traditions of medieval Arabic literature.
He was best known for his first novel, Al-Zeini Barakat (1972), written in the neo-traditionalist style of a palimpsest novel*, in which the events of Egyptian history at the beginning of the XVI century are projected onto the events of the second half of the XX century. Naguib Mahfouz was the founder of neotraditionalism, which aims to "Arabize" modern Arabic literature on the basis of reviving the artistic values of the Arab medieval heritage. Later, this style became widespread in the literature of other Arab countries.
By now, al-Ghitani's novels "Al-Zeini Barakat", " Events on az-Za-Afarani Street "(1976), " The Lands of al-Ghitani "(1981), the three-volume "Book of Divine Phenomena" (1983-1987) and others have already become classics of modern Egyptian prose, translated into English. a number of European languages. Unfortunately, only his first novel, Al-Zeini Barakat (1986, transl.), has been translated into Russian so far. T. Kuzmina)1, and we are glad to introduce the Russian-speaking reader to the content of another novel by Gamal al-Gitani, "A Message of Love and Tenderness"2, which was written under the impression of the writer's trip to Uzbekistan and was first published in 1987, as well as two short stories that were first published in an Egyptian periodical at the end of 2009.
The novel "Message of Love and Tenderness" is written under the impression of the writer's trip to the Soviet Union, to Uzbekistan, where, in addition to the capital, he visited the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand. The appearance of this book is a testament to the fact that this trip left an indelible mark on his soul.
The novel is uneventful. It traces two interrelated storylines, each of which seems to exist independently. The first one is lyrical, revealing the story of the hero-narrator's sudden love for the translator accompanying the delegation, a Russian girl Valeria.
The image of this girl haunted the hero long before meeting her, back in his homeland. In the novel, it takes on a somewhat mystical character of the highest ideal of beauty. Throughout the novel, there is a Sufi subtext, the places that attract the hero are somehow associated with Sufism.
The second line is the journey itself and its impressions. The writer uses the medieval literary genres rihla (travel description) and risala ikhvaniya (friendly message) in the novel. It treats the priceless heritage of Arab culture with care, preserving its main features and attributes. In "friendly messages", the novelist observes the canons of the genre - forms of addressing the addressee-a close friend, offering prayers in his honor, traditional phraseology, characteristic turns and expressions. The epistolary genre helps the hero, and through it the author, express themselves by describing their emotional experiences and impressions.
From the narrator's messages to a friend, we learn that he is a scientist-architect, a specialist in the restoration of ancient monuments, who came to Moscow for an international symposium on the protection and restoration of ancient monuments, where he made a report. After the end of the symposium, he and a group of participants are sent to Uzbekistan to get acquainted with
* Palimpsest-a written monument where the original text was erased and replaced with a new one. In the ancient world, they existed on papyri (editor's note).
sights of Bukhara and Samarkand.
The image of the narrator is largely autobiographical, it carries the writer's worldview and worldview, his awareness of reality. A sudden strong feeling, the atmosphere of an ancient city, the delight in the genius of human creation, merge together, create an impulse to overcome the spiritual crisis, find lost balance and believe in life.
The story of a trip through Uzbek cities begins with a description of parks, squares, and wide streets of Tashkent, sometimes intersecting, sometimes framing spacious squares. Looking carefully at the facades of houses, he notes the specific oriental flavor of buildings, not a single architectural detail escapes his attention.
After Tashkent, he goes to Bukhara, where he writes to a friend that he has long aspired to this ancient city, "shrouded in the mystery of time", in the past "experienced both ups and downs". This is not a superficial tourist interest. Each architectural monument creates a certain emotional mood for the narrator, evokes associations and images inspired by visions of the past.
It is in Bukhara that "time travel" occurs in the narrator's mind, and he mentally wanders through this region in the XIII century, during the conquest of these places by the Mongols. He sees the image of a conqueror peering at famous monuments before plundering and destroying the city. Even the air of these places seems painfully familiar to the narrator, as if he himself is a part of this land. The purely personal perception of the hero is enhanced by the presence of a woman who turned his soul upside down, made him believe in life again.
As follows from the novel, the hero thoroughly prepared for a trip to Bukhara, even studied the drawings of buildings, the location of reservoirs, the names of monuments. In Bukhara, he carefully examines the famous Bukhara carpets, their ornaments combine the most subtle shades-from dark cherry and crimson-blood to light red, he admires elegant gold-embroidered products.
Samarkand, as well as Bukhara, has long attracted his attention for its architectural monuments: "Wherever you look," he writes to a friend from Samarkand, " everywhere your gaze stops on the ornaments and patterns decorating the facades. Delicate lines, intertwining with each other, create a special solemnity. The seal of creation lies on everything-on the ancient gates, madrasas, mosques, mausoleums where noble people rest " (p. 75)*.
The narrator compares two ancient Uzbek cities - Bukhara and Samarkand. It seems to him that Bukhara reveals its essence gradually, not immediately, while Samarkand, " proud and majestic, manifests itself in all its glory from the first hours of your stay in it." Bukhara, according to the narrator, is "an ancient manuscript, the pages of which contain more hidden meaning than it actually seems" (p. 55).
"Wherever you are in Samarkand," he writes to a friend, " antiquity overtakes you everywhere. It does not call you to it, it goes to meet you, surrounds you, paves the way to the mysterious gorges and convolutions of memory. Her presence is numerous and full of deep meaning, which I tried to grasp every time I met her" (p. 80). With excitement, the hero of the novel tells about his visit to the Shahi-Zinda architectural complex, describes the Ulugbek observatory, recalls Abu Ali ibn Sina (980-1037), Abu Rayhan Biruni (973-1048), al - Khwarizmi (783-1850) and other great scientists of the Middle Ages who lived and worked on the land of this region. The blue domes of Samarkand left an indelible mark on the writer's memory.
In one of the messages to a friend, the narrator notes that the first thing he does when he sets foot on the land of another country is to get acquainted with the music and cuisine of its people. With great interest, the hero wanders through the markets of Samarkand, inhales the smell of the famous Samarkand tortillas, the taste of which he remembered for life, and remembers them decades later.
He first met with Uzbek national music and dance art at a concert in Tashkent. The narrator describes in detail his impression of the music he heard: "Two young men of local nationality with characteristic facial features and slitted eyes entered. One of them leaned over tanbur, the other over Santur. Two, my brother, there were only two of them! However, as soon as one drew the bow and the other touched the string, they exploded them with such immense feeling and brought down the melody of such depth that I could not imagine the like. I was completely immersed in these sounds, they were filled with the pain and crying of generations, the crackling of fires, the trampling of horses during the Mongol raid, the grief for the destroyed buildings, the forced separations, the alienation of thousands of people who lived nearby, many roads cross on this land, the feet of different peoples trampled it, they heard the joy of victories and victories. the happiness of peaceful life" (p. 28).
And again the writer returns to the character of Uzbek music already in Samarkand during a conversation with fellow travelers: "I said that in the music of these places there is sadness and joy, in it you can hear the breath of past centuries. It contains echoes of bygone times, ups and downs, fades and revivals, past glories. The interlocutor agreed with me: yes, the history of these places is very turbulent and ancient "(p. 30).
Al-Gitani also describes Uzbek folk dances with delight.
* Here and further quotations are translated by D. A. Mubarakova.
** Tanbur - stringed musical instrument.
*** Santur ( santuri) - a musical percussion instrument, like a cymbal. Here the writer obviously meant the Uzbek bowed national instrument-gijak.
He subtly caught the sign language, facial expressions in the dance and compares the graceful movements of the dancer with the running of a trembling doe that has strayed from the herd, then with a beautiful bird that has lagged behind the flock, then with the tense expectation of the girl to meet her lover. Her dance explodes into a fountain of joy when she meets a loved one, and she conveys her feelings to others, involving them in her dance of happiness.
The narrator sadly says goodbye to the land of Uzbekistan, where he experienced happy moments of meeting the beautiful in the image of a woman, then in the image of art, the creation of the human mind and hands that have passed through the centuries. He remembers the details of the last minutes of his stay at the Tashkent airport - a bright ray of Central Asian sun, a crowd of little girls "with beautiful Asian faces" who presented bright bouquets of flowers to the guests: "I leaned over and kissed a little girl. I looked into her big eyes , which I would never see again. Thus, separation already stood in the way of a fleeting meeting" (p. 82).
At home, in his homeland, he mentally returns to the places he visited, finds and marks the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent on the map.
Following the writer, we followed in the footsteps of his hero through the ancient Uzbek cities and got acquainted with his impressions - the impressions of the author himself. The novel "Message of Love and Tenderness" is about a very strong sublime feeling, about the spiritual experiences of a modern Arab intellectual, about his attempt to get out of the clutches of the crisis of consciousness. Of course, the content of the novel is much broader and deeper than described in this article, it teaches you to respect the culture of other peoples, get acquainted with their art and through them come to mutual understanding, teaches you to appreciate the beauty inherited from the past, join it and develop it.
* * *
A great place in al-Gitani's work is also occupied by short stories - stories on political, military, social, and love themes, both written in various modern forms and stylized under the genre forms of medieval Arabic prose.
Gamal al-Ghitani is also the editor-in-chief of the weekly Akhbar al-Adab (Literature News). and almost every week he publishes an article in the editor's column on a sharp, topical literary or social topic. The following two short stories were published in Akhbar al-Adab on 11.10.2009. Episodes of family life that pop up in the memory of its head, who is no longer young, convey the awareness of the dramatic consequences of the changes that are taking place in Egyptian society - the mass emigration of young people from the country in search of work-and in his own life-the illness of his wife, who for many years was a faithful guardian of family traditions and the usual way of life.
1 Al-Ghitani Gamal. Az-Zeini Barakat, translated from the Arabic by T. Kuzmina, Moscow, Raduga Publ., 1986.
2 Risalat fi al-sababa wa-l-wajd, 1987.
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