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The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin
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The Arabian Nightmare

by Robert Irwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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339449,342 (3.8)30
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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
The hero and guiding force of this epic fantasy is an insomniac young man who, unable to sleep, guides the reader through the narrow streets of Cairo-a mysterious city full of deceit and trickery. He narrates a complex tangle of dreams and imaginings that describe an atmosphere constantly shifting between sumptuously learned orientalism, erotic adventure, and dry humor. The result is a thought-provoking puzzle box of sex, philosophy, and theology.
  Cultural_Attache | Aug 4, 2018 |
In the eastern lands the heat and idleness breed among the inhabitants leisured and lethal fantasies. p. 71 ...the perplexed traveller may direct his steps according to the stars. Beware, though, for it is not unknown for the stars to move in their courses with the aim of misleading the unwary. p. 73 Nobody wants to die, but we all want to sleep... p. 75 The world is all made of one substance; it will suffice to examine any portion of it thoroughly. p. 97 Nothing balances against anything...The I that laughs and the I that weeps are two different Is. p. 100 Nothing ever happens in this place. Things are always being supposed to be just about to happen. p. 137

But surely a story within a story is the model of your situation, for what is a conspiracy but a story within a story? And what is a spy but a man who seeks to penetrate to that inner plot, the hidden truth?...You were a spy by temperment long before...You do nothing but wander about, solitary, suspicious and uncertain, and people talk to you. You seem to do nothing, but those big dreamy eyes take in everything...you were spying on life. Your face is like a mask; it therefore advertises your profession - conspiracy hunter. But conspiracies are only fantasies of simple men looking for simple explanations for events that are in truth very intricate in their causes and purposes. You will not find any one key to unlock events... p. 203

Now, let me point to Iblis's role in the story. The djinn in the story were all different manifestations of Iblis, for, though his name and appearance are legion, his evil essence is one. Iblis was the djinn in the toothed cave, the mate on the ship, the djinn fishing at the pool, the santon on the hill - all Iblis...The reason Iblis solved the riddle was that he set it himself in the first place. The story is all of his contrivance and intervention. p. 231 ( )
10 vote slickdpdx | Jan 26, 2008 |
This brilliant book communicates its own obsessive thought-patterns to the reader in a way that dissolves the boundaries between literature, dream and magic. I'm not sure I've ever managed to leave Cairo even now.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Jun 7, 2007 |
  NickBrooke | Oct 29, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
The setting is Cairo in 1486, oozing with rich Oriental sleaze. Cairo is inner as well as mundane space, a labyrinth of streets and dreams in which the sort-of-hero, Balain of Norwich, flounders helplessly. Does he wake or sleep? Why does he repeatedly awake (or does he?)
 

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Robert Irwinprimary authorall editionscalculated
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For a long time I used to go to bed early.
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In the eastern lands the heat and idleness breed among the inhabitants leisured and lethal fantasies. p. 71 ...the perplexed traveller may direct his steps according to the stars. Beware, though, for it is not unknown for the stars to move in their courses with the aim of misleading the unwary. p. 73 Nobody wants to die, but we all want to sleep... p. 75 The world is all made of one substance; it will suffice to examine any portion of it thoroughly. p. 97 Nothing balances against anything...The I that laughs and the I that weeps are two different Is. p. 100 Nothing ever happens in this place. Things are always being supposed to be just about to happen. p. 137
But surely a story within a story is the model of your situation, for what is a conspiracy but a story within a story? And what is a spy but a man who seeks to penetrate to that inner plot, the hidden truth?...You were a spy by temperment long before...You do nothing but wander about, solitary, suspicious and uncertain, and people talk to you. You seem to do nothing, but those big dreamy eyes take in everything...you were spying on life. Your face is like a mask; it therefore advertises your profession - conspiracy hunter. But conspiracies are only fantasies of simple men looking for simple explanations for events that are in truth very intricate in their causes and purposes. You will not find any one key to unlock events... p. 203
Now, let me point to Iblis's role in the story. The djinn in the story were all different manifestations of Iblis, for, though his name and appearance are legion, his evil essence is one. Iblis was the djinn in the toothed cave, the mate on the ship, the djinn fishing at the pool, the santon on the hill - all Iblis...The reason Iblis solved the riddle was that he set it himself in the first place. The story is all of his contrivance and intervention. p. 231
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670816612, Hardcover)

The hero and guiding force of this epic fantasy is an insomniac young man who, unable to sleep, guides the reader through the narrow streets of Cairo-a mysterious city full of deceit and trickery. He narrates a complex tangle of dreams and imaginings that describe an atmosphere constantly shifting between sumptuously learned orientalism, erotic adventure, and dry humor. The result is a thought-provoking puzzle box of sex, philosophy, and theology.

Reminiscent of Italo Calvino, and Umberto Eco, this cult classic is finally back in print!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

He narrates a complex tangle of dreams and imaginings that describe an atmosphere constantly shifting between sumptuously learned orientalism, erotic adventure, and dry humor. The result is a thought-provoking puzzle box of sex, philosophy, and theology. Reminiscent of Italo Calvino, and Umberto Eco, this cult classic is finally back in print!… (more)

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