Return to the bridge left by Michelangelo in Istanbul

Like the idea of ​​the novel “Tell about battles, kings and elephants” by French writer Matthias Enard (1972) is based on the call of the Italian sculptor Michelangelo by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II in 1506 AD. build a bridge in Istanbul; The parallel idea or desired idea of ​​the novel is based on the adoption of the saying of building a bridge between East and West, or between two civilized models, the destructive differences of which may be narrowed to the limit, and their fruitful differences may be. expand to maximum also.

The creative idea is that the same novel – which was translated into Arabic by Amal NN Al-Halabi, published earlier this year by “Dar Al-Tanweer” – is the bridge between East and West; What can not be cured in reality is treated with imagination. The first idea, or main idea of ​​the novel, is to call Michelangelo to build a bridge that will be broken, according to what the novel shows, which does not necessarily intersect with historical facts. On “September 14, 1509 AD, at the moment Michelangelo opened the workshop in the Sistine Chapel, a terrible earthquake struck the city of Istanbul” and the Michelangelo Bridge was destroyed, “the pillars and columns of which were built, as well as a number of primary arches The building collapsed and raging waves pushed furiously through the crack in the Bosphorus and no one mentioned the bridge after that.

The desired idea, or the idea of ​​rebuilding a bridge between East and West, is still in the process of utopia or the desired dream. This is what the novelist Matthias Einar said when he wrote: “In itself [يقصد مايكل أنجلو] From Istanbul there is vague light, sweet sweetness mixed with bitterness, distant music, soft forms, pleasures eroded by the rust of time, and the agony of violence and loss: the hands that life prevented him from holding; faces he did not touch and will not touch; And bridges that have not yet been built. ” As for the real bridge, it is the narrative itself, which is a victory of creative mental differences over political, religious and ideological differences.

In order for reality to change, it is necessary to prove it in the imagination

Therefore, the text “Tell them about battles, kings and elephants” has three main layers: the first layer represents the idea mentioned in the text. The text included the invitation received from the Italian sculptor Michelangelo to visit Istanbul by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II to build a bridge there, and the sculptor responded to the invitation. We read: “After Michelangelo Buonarroti came down from her [يقصد من الفرقاطة] At the port of Constantinople on May 13, 1506, Michelangelo landed within a few moments of anchoring.

The novelist goes on to narrate the details of the sculptor’s residence in the world metropolis at the time and the human and practical relations that brought him to a group of people (ministers in the caliph’s court, translators, engineers, craftsmen, dancers, servants, lovers). .) and things (paints, craters, engineering tools, monkey city streets, ports, boats, daggers, elephants …) and ideas (dazzling designs in “Hagia Sophia”, melancholy in the voices of muezzins in the mosque … ), until he came up with elaborate projects for the bridge that the engineers and craftsmen and workers worked on to start turning it from an idea into reality. And then his return to Italy and the memories that remained etched in the sculptor’s head until old age. The main event – which is the whole novel – is narrated by the novelist in the form of a simple tale, in which the events flow without hassle and excessive linguistic loads, which makes his reading a quiet and enjoyable work.

The second layer of the text is the interpretation of that idea. This is because the desired idea of ​​the novel involves building a bridge between two different civilizational models. Civilization, in its deepest sense, is the product of the cross-fertilization of many, many lives; Lives that transform their religious, political, ideological, national, national and ethnic differences into creative differences, after merging them into a law that regulates and protects political society. Michelangelo, one of the greatest innovators in human history, was not isolated from the contexts of influence and influence. His visit to Istanbul will embed his visions and ideas for the rest of his life, not only on a psychological level, but in practical reality. also.

This is what the text reveals in some aspects: “In painting, as well as in architecture, Michelangelo Buonarroti owes much of his creativity to Istanbul. His knowledge of this city and his knowledge of other peoples changed. his view of colors and shapes, the scenes he saw in Istanbul, his work will be printed for the rest of his life and will be inspired by the dome design of St. Peter’s Church by the dome of St. Sophia. Bayazid Mosque, and in the design of the Medici family library from the Sultan’s library he was visiting (…) At the request of Pope Julius II, all will be embedded with what the artist saw and experienced from the situations and personalities that met here in Constantinople.

Istanbul, who called the great sculptor to take advantage of his creations, that sculptor carried him on his back when he returned to Italy. Referring to the novelist Matthias Einar the symbolic bridge built between a creator from western civilization and a city belonging to eastern civilization. The state of acculturation that occurred between the creator as a representative of a Western civilization of religious, nodal, ethnic and ideological nature and the city of Istanbul as a different religious, nodal, ethnic and ideological character; It is the bridge of the desired future between East and West. Or is it – in another language – the vision behind the text.

As for the third layer, it is the novel itself, as it is the bridge that East and West have not been able to build on earth for many centuries, so Matthias Einar built it in the imagination in the form of a novel. Imagination – and this situation is a great human impulse – seeks to bridge the gap between two worlds as close to each other as far as far apart. Always, in order for reality to change, it is necessary to first place this change in the imagination, or it may be said that the change of what is in the eye requires the change of what is in the mind from the beginning, according to the old Arabic saying . .

* Writer from Jordan

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