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View all 3 comments. Apr 23, Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing Shelves: A superb book, perfect for insomniacs — being one long night's reverie by an ailing Austrian musicologist Orientalist who cannot sleep. It is a slow read , it will doubtless appeal only to a few, but what a fortunate few we are. On one level the novel is a spirited, comical refutation of Said's Orientalism much of which I would have missed without the work of Robert Irwin ; on another, it is a fantasia on Orientalist themes, infusing the spleen of Thomas Bernhard and the musing melancholy of W G A superb book, perfect for insomniacs — being one long night's reverie by an ailing Austrian musicologist Orientalist who cannot sleep.

On one level the novel is a spirited, comical refutation of Said's Orientalism much of which I would have missed without the work of Robert Irwin ; on another, it is a fantasia on Orientalist themes, infusing the spleen of Thomas Bernhard and the musing melancholy of W G Sebald with the magic of Proust, Pessoa, The Arabian Nights , Annemarie Schwarzenbach , Omar Khayyam, Sadegh Hedayat, Hafez… but this is only a beginning, the list multiplies, the echoes reverberate throughout the night. There are bibliographic and musicological pleasures at every turn.

On a more topical level it is the anti- Submission. In the deepest roots of our cultures, the Middle East and the West interpenetrate, we are each other's dreams and fantasies. The narrator is acutely aware of the horrors currently unfolding in Syria; his distress is mingled with memories of time spent in Aleppo, Damascus, Tehran. Nothing is glossed over, but one is most aware of his love for Arabic, Turkish, Persian art, music, poetry. His meditations are riddled with the scholars and artists who crossed back and forth among the cultures. Always these paths keep crossing and re crossing: Annemarie Schwartzenbach met Arthur de Gobineau without realizing it in the Lahr Valley, a few dozen kilometers north of Tehran.

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The compass is still pointing east. Or, to pluck one of my favorite sentences from the middle of the book: I was thus happy to plunge into this dense and atmospheric novel a second time, as part of the Man Booker International challenge. The book is about Franz, a middle-aged Austrian musicologist, who is having a sleepless night. He spends what should be his sleeping hours revisiting memories of his past travels and reflections on the Orient; memories that centre around the unrequited love of his life, a brilliant academic by the name of Sarah.

And so, over the course of the night, we follow Franz from country to country e. It respectfully renders homage to the East and strives to underline, throughout the entire narrative, the interconnectedness of East and West, and how both worlds have always nourished and exchanged with one another. This is not a fast read, but a novel that you will want to savour slowly, while listening and viewing -in the background-some of the referenced music, historical sites and paintings. It is a wonderful success of a novel that I would wholeheartedly recommend to any one interested in learning more about the Orient.

Ein Kompass, dessen Nadel nach Osten zeigt? Jahrhundert anhielten und erst durch die aktuellen Ereignisse ins Gegenteil verkehrt wurden, sind das Leitmotiv des vorliegenden Romans. Plotfixierten Leserinnen oder Lesern sei das Buch nur mit Vorbehalt empfohlen.

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Nicht genug, Deutschland wiederholte diese Tollheit dann nochmals im 2. Goebbels goutierte das jedoch nicht und stellte das Projekt ein. Wahnsinn und Melancholie sind ein verbindendes Element der Sehnsucht nach dem Orient. Man verliert sich in den Geschichten Enards bzw. So wird auch die Kernaussage des Romans in seiner Form sehr genial nochmals sichtbar: Es sei naiv zu glauben, fuhr Sarah mit lauter Stimme fort, dass dieser Koffer mit orientalischen Bildern heute allein ein spezifisches Gut Europas sei.

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Ich gebe dir ein ganz aktuelles und schlagendes Beispiel, sagte sie: Der Wahhabismus, ein Disneyfilm. Ich ist in der Dunkelheit. In der Wahrnehmung der Zeit. In der Kunst, in der Erfahrung der Andersheit. Aug 13, Jim Elkins added it Shelves: Sebald's Pernicious Influence One of the challenging properties of painting is that influences are immediately visible: Novels are complex in time and structure, and influences can be masked by masses of detail. Enard has Sebald's penchant for travel in Europe, and he loves weaving histories of places and peop Sebald's Pernicious Influence One of the challenging properties of painting is that influences are immediately visible: Enard has Sebald's penchant for travel in Europe, and he loves weaving histories of places and people together.

He has Sebald's sweet melancholy, and Sebald's nostalgia mixed with pain. But there is a signal difference: He is a snob in two specific senses: A woman he loved was in the audience. Enard wants to say that the concert always reminds him of the "shame and embarrassment of all declarations of love that fall flat. This doesn't add atmosphere or content, really, and it doesn't help Enard make his point about embarrassed love. More often, Enard doesn't name-drop: And for me, that recurring pedagogic impulse makes the book unbearable.

I often thought that his ideal reader was a combination of a young, curious European academic, avid reader, or book reviewer, eager to learn more about Europe's relation to the Orient, and Sebald himself, whom I imagine Enard wanting to correct -- I picture Enard becoming annoyed at Sebald's persistent bias toward western and central Europe, and his obliviousness about eastern Europe, the Balkans, or the Middle East. My copy of "Compass" has many pages marked "lecturing Sebald. The narrator is in love, and stories about his fellow scholar Sarah are threaded through the book.

He is also ill with an unspecified disease, and he keeps thinking of that as well. But neither of those become much more than devices. The mentions of his disease are especially unconvincing because they come up so often, and to so little effect. Clearly Enard considered them useful strategies to keep the narrative afloat -- they are excuses and frames for the hundreds of historical, political, musical, literary, and linguistic stories he wants to tell. All this becomes especially difficult to tolerate when his two ideal readers the educable and somewhat star-struck younger reader or newspaper book reviewer, and Sebald himself cannot be combined in a general mode of address -- when it becomes clear that he wants to say one sort of thing to Sebald and other older, more knowledgeable readers and another to reviewers and other younger and less well-informed readers.

An example from early on in the book: If a reader knows Mahler, she knows the Kindertotenlieder, and if she knows them, she knows they are for dead children. I guess that almost everyone who knows Mahler knows his daughter died, even if only a few would know about Maiernigg, or that it's in Carinthia the latter is important elsewhere in "Compass". So on the one hand there's an imaginary reader who knows Mahler, and doesn't need to have this all rehearsed; on the other there's a reader who doesn't know Mahler, for whom this is a somewhat startling but essentially inexpressive or opaque passage.

The former is "Sebald," and the latter is the younger reader I've been imagining. Somewhere in between is their composite: Contrast this uneasy sense of a reader with the end of the same paragraph: It's instructional, and now the reader knows better than before. Enard can't stop himself from dropping hints that he knows a lot about these subjects.

He does it through his narrator, Ritter, but those passages come across clearly as claims about his own knowledge. I have been taken to task for mistaking Ritter for Enard: Enard, then, has Ritter muse about just how much knowledge he has of the performance history of Beethoven, for example, and the entire of "Compass" is scattered with ideas for books Ritter which is to say, Enard might write. Farther down on p. I don't mean to imply that these problems of tone and address could be easily solved. Many reviewers loved this book; of the reviews I have read only Stephen Poole in the "Guardian" has some of the reservations I have.

He wishes Enard was "less determined to demonstrate the pleasures of erudition. The problem is not in the stories themselves, it's their uneasy imbrication into a novel. Enard wants to tell these stories, and it is not easy to know how to set them up, how to make them seem to be naturally lodged in Ritter's stream of consciousness, how to avoid interpolating explanations that Ritter would never bother to give himself. And yet that is exactly what Sebald manages to do, and that's why I think of Enard as a pedagogue, if not a snob, in a way Sebald never is.

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I have two more complaints. First regarding Enard's range of historical reference. His narrator is fascinated by the 19th century, which is the author's prerogative. But to the extent that Ritter speaks for Enard, it is unfortunate that his interest drops off so rapidly when it comes to art, music, architecture, and literature of the last hundred years. Ritter's mind is at home with Liszt, Chopin, and Beethoven, and although he mentions Part, Schoenberg, and others, they really aren't part of his imagination.

Enard, the implied author, is old fashioned. He studies Orientalism, and he offers some correctives not only to the Occidentalism of Sebald, but to the prejudices and limitations of academic Orientalists.


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But he himself is embedded in the 19th century: Intellectually, Enard offers critiques of Eurocentrism that were initially enabled by Edward Said and developed in the very large literature following his work; but culturally and emotionally, Enard's world is the exact one that perpetrated all the Orientalist prejudices and projections that even the first wave of Orientalist scholarship in the s clearly rejected. Second, and last, regarding the images. Because I am making a special study of novels with images, I was intrigued to see photographs scattered through the text.


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  • But they are also disappointing. The first two are exactly apposite to the book's themes: The second omits the Arabic script. The two images fit the book's themes: But it's a squandered opportunity. I waited another 12 pages for the next images, and during those pages I was wondering: Did Ritter supposedly have a copy machine? I was taken out of the narrative as I began to wonder about why Enard didn't think a reader might wonder about such things.

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    And then, 12 pages later, on p. View all 5 comments. Autore da leggere quindi, anche se di non facilissimo impatto. Aug 31, ReemK10 Paper Pills rated it it was amazing. My first thought before deciding to read Compass was, would this be a betrayal? It was like invoking the Devil in a Carmelite convent. From the beginning of Western speculation about the Orient, the one thing the orient could not do was to represent itself. Would this be more of the negative stereotyping we of the Orient come to expect from the Orientalists?

    I had read some really good reviews from people that I follow, and I was curious! Then after a chance encounter with the translator Charlotte Mandell, I knew that I wouldn't resist anymore. I ordered the book. It arrived with this beautiful cover by Peter Mendelsund whom I had to look up. I didn't care for it. For me, this is a spelling I tend to equate with Islamophobes. The preferred spelling is Quran or Qur'an. I reached out to Charlotte Mandell asking her about this particular choice in spelling, and we both agreed that it would be what the narrator Franz Ritter would be more likely to use.

    I could accept that. I put my guard down. I found myself deeply engaged with the text. Mathias Enard, a professor Of Arabic at the University of Barcelona had clearly shared his scholarship with us. I found myself learning so much!

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    In fact, the Roumis appropriated this landscape of dream, it's they who now, long after the classical Arabic storytellers, exploit it and travel through it, so that all their journeys are a confrontation with this dream. There's even a fertile current that is built on this dream, without needing to travel, whose most famous representative is surely Marcel Proust and his In Search of Lost Time, the symbolic heart of the European novel. Proust makes the Thousand and One Nights one of his models- the book of night, the book of struggle against death.

    There was Balzac, the First French novelist to include a text in Arabic in one of his novels. Your request to send this item has been completed. Citations are based on reference standards. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study. The specific requirements or preferences of your reviewing publisher, classroom teacher, institution or organization should be applied. The E-mail Address es field is required. Please enter recipient e-mail address es. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format.

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