Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ali and Nino | The Orientalist

Ali and Nino | Kurban Said :: Essad Bey :: Lev Nussimbaum
The Orientalist | Tom Reiss

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Essad Bey, kurban Said aka Lev Nussimbaum, reminds me pretty much of Muhammad Asad ( Leopold Weiss ) - I wonder if they've met. For some reasons, I could very well relate to this character. Infact his days at the oil rick town of Baku, reminded me of my days spent in the west-coast of Arabia, lest I forget - none of us being 'native'. I'm glad I read Ali and Nino first, as Tom Reiss ( the biographer in 'The Orientalist'), tries his utmost best to wieve Bey's [I'll use Bey, for consistancy] own lifestory as a fulfilment of Ali from the novel. Bey's attempts to carve a niche for himself in the world of left vs. right politics, speaks volumes of my own drives...

While Ali and Nino is a fictional account of a love story between an Azeri boy - Ali, and his Georgian girl - Nino. The orientalist is an investigative-journalistic-biographical attempt to uncover the real 'bey'. In what follows, you see a parallel between the novel and the biography. Ali tries to make sense of the revolutions around him, and in a certain way, conducts his own Jihad, in an attempt to understand himself. Reiss, paints a romantic picture of Bey, in a similar manner; turning our Little Lev, into a Muslim 'Prince' ( I ought to call my self the Andalusian Prince ).

Bey growing up through the dreaded revolutions of Russia and Germany finds himself in the quagmire of the vassals of Nihilism and turns to what represents the final hope - Islam. I couldn't help but remember Gai Eaton, when he remarks something about one revolution leading to another.