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Papa Sartre

Papa Sartre

Ali Bader
Translated by Aida Bamia
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Papa Sartre
    Book Description:

    After a failed study mission in France, Abd al-Rahman returns home to Iraq to launch an existentialist movement akin to that of his hero. Convinced that it falls upon him to introduce his country’s intellectuals to Sartre’s thought, he feels especially qualified by his physical resemblance to the philosopher (except for the crossed eyes) and by his marriage to Germaine, who he claims is the great man’s cousin. Meanwhile, his wealth and family prestige guarantee him an idle life spent in drinking, debauchery, and frequenting a well-known nightclub. But is his suicide an act of philosophical despair, or a reaction to his friend’s affair with Germaine? A biographer chosen by his presumed friends narrates the story of a somewhat bewildered young man who—like other members of his generation—was searching for a meaning to his life. This parody of the abuses and extravagances of pseudo-philosophers in the Baghdad of the sixties throws into relief the Iraqi intellectual and cultural life of the time and the reversal of fortune of some of Iraq’s wealthy and powerful families.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-155-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. The Research Trip
    (pp. 1-26)

    That wicked devil Hanna Yusif, the macabre-looking gravedigger, and his depraved friend—whom he refers to by the curious Biblical name of Nunu Behar—were the ones who convinced me to write the biography of an Iraqi philosopher, who lived in al-Sadriya district in the sixties.

    In truth, those two charlatans were not lacking a love of philosophy, nor were they without enthusiasm and genius. They were, however, truly short on honor and relied without exception on depravity.

    I met them last winter. I visited them in a modest house overlooking the cemetery at the church of Umm al-Mauna behind...

  3. The Writing Journey
    (pp. 27-164)

    The big clock in al-Sadriya souk chimed seven, waking Abd al-Rahman from his sleep. The sound was mixed with the shouting of street merchants selling vegetables, poultry, and fresh fruits, while the butchers, bakers, and fighting beggars gathered at the entrance of the souk. He was feeling sick. He slowly got out of bed and looked at a photograph of Jean-Paul Sartre hanging on the wall facing him. It was a gray photograph in a beautiful golden frame hung above shelves holding a selection of philosophy books, prominent among them were the French editions of Sartre’s books, organized carefully by...

  4. The Philosopher’s Journey
    (pp. 165-178)

    One quiet morning, having almost finished the philosopher’s biography, I woke up early and pulled open the curtains of the casement overlooking the street. I opened the window and felt the cold air hit my face. The sun was pale, and its rays spread over the upper stories of the buildings, hotels, and luxurious houses. The smell of ink reminded me of the drama of lost-love stories I had lived with ever since I had dived into the maze of documents in search of the words that gradually formed themselves into the stories of real people.

    Those words shaped the...