World-renowned writer amin Maalouf is awake to thé dangers of “the secret appel of events that are about venir happen”, follow to thé words du the poème Constantin Cavafy, oui quoted in his recent book. 20 years ago, auto French-Lebanese writer wrote ns his concerns about auto rise du “Murderous identities”, the français title du his livre “In the Name of Identity: Violence et the Need to Belong”, (Arcade 2012). Ten year ago he was worried about the “Disordered World” (Bloombsbury USA, 2011). In his new essay “Le Naufrage des Civilisations” (The Wreck du Civilizations), released last in march in la france (Grasset) and not however translated, Maalouf writes ns a globale “sinking” that is affecting tous of civilization. “The lights of the Levant oui gone out. Then, thé darkness spread out across thé planet,” he says. Auto text, broad and dense at auto same time, the cross through auto 20th century to auto present day, mix narrations and reflections, periodically recounting major events venir which the author uncovered himself in the rare position of being année eyewitness. Année informed follower du world affairs, the author analyzes thé basic foundations de its successive drifts and its damage at assorted times.

Vous lisez ce: Amin maalouf le naufrage des civilisations

Back indigenous Brussels, where he has seul received the royaliste Belgian academy of french Language and Literature’s Nessim Habif internationale Prize parce que le his life’s work, Maalouf, that joined auto French académie in 2011, agreed à discuss some concerns covered in his recent book, his reasons à la writing it, et his journey into auto world du writing.

How does your current work affecter to auto previous one, “Disordered World”?

I would say there is a continuous between thé three books, “In auto Name ns Identity”, “Disordered World”, et “Le Naufrage des Civilisations” (The Wreck de Civilizations). Every ten years jaune so, ns publish an essay, in which ns pursue the same train du thought. Je grew up in thé shadow of ma father who was a journalist. I oui been observing thé world ever since ma childhood, et in my latest book, ns review thé events de the last couple of decades, trying to understand the situation nous are in, a case which ns find incredibly worrisome.

“I was attaché safe et sound in thé arms de a dying civilization”. Thé beginning de your essay refers à the mélanger of identities you grew increase with: Levantine parents from Lebanon and Egypt. Until now, why haven’t tu written much more about your family members background?

My paternal family comes from auto Lebanese mountains. My maternal grandparents space both initially from Lebanon, marqué like countless families at the end of the nineteenth century et beginning de the twentieth, they immigrated à Egypt, whereby they obtained married and spent your lives. My maman was attaché in Tanta, and spent sa childhood in Heliopolis, ns which elle has great memories, which elle transmitted to me. When je speak about ma childhood, I have to speak around these two Levantine countries, same endearing venir me, cible very different from une another.

Does thé relationship in between your essay et overall type of thé memoir seem pertinent, in the way ce makes us relive the significativement moments de history, ones the you oui witnessed?

There is a part de the book that is similar à a memoir: when ns talk about my childhood, about what I oui observed, and also as soon as I couverture the duration when je was a journalist, and the countries ns traveled à in order venir cover various events. But I would say the this is seulement un one visage of mien book. Je only refer venir the observation of de nombreux events I have been a directement witness to. There are writers that talk about the world approximately them seul so the they may talk about themselves. I matin a little on thé opposite side ns this spectrum: when ns talk about myself, cette is mostly a pretext venir talk about thé world about me. In ma book, the storytelling of intimate et personal history is at the prestations de service of global history.

In your analysis of the facts, you present historical feedback, et sometimes also projections of comment events might have unfolded. How do you envision the role of imagination in her approach?

I wouldn’t speak of imagination per se, marqué rather du a reflection nous different possibilities. The story unfolds in a certain way, cible we can assume other developments, other sequences de events. There are always historical crossroads, jaune decisions the were taken, which ont changed the arttaserse of events. à la example, comment could Egypt et the Arab world ont evolved, si Nasser had avoided the 1967 war, and if hey hadn’t passed away at the age of 52? absolutely our world would oui been different.

According to you, liban has paid the price de having been “incapable of building a nation”. How would you justify this failure?

I think that ma native country had a de nombreux of assets that could ont allowed ce to phat a leading role in that region, and even nous a global scale. The country has high high quality people, a high level de education et skills, and a dunicité experience in coexistence between people from various backgrounds et beliefs. Because du these factors, the la nature of lebanon could ont brought together toutes les personnes these areas within one nation, modern et democratic, et led auto wider region nous the path à real progress. Cible instead, ce allowed itself to become weakened par factionalism. We must constantly hope that cette will get rid of this dark phase du its history, cible the past couple of decades will always appear to me oui missed opportunities.

Regarding her assessment ns the Lebanese situation, elle speak du a “sadness from which ns can no longer heal.” comment would tu recommend stopping spiritual sectarianism?

No decree have the right to eradicate sectarianism. Overcoming such an issue calls for lucid, courageous and voluntary actions, taking carré over several decades. It would oui been necessary venir insure that belonging to thé same denchères community transcended denominational affiliations in peoples’ minds. Unfortunately, à part from a couple of years du work in this direction, we oui not fully committed venir see it through., sectarianism is much more ferocious than it was at thé time ns independence. I faire not feel that my country ns origin is right now able à be auto master ns its very own destiny. Ce is also often auto victim ns everything that is mûrir around it.

Your geopolitical analysis of the twenty century highlights links à older worlds that oui disappeared. Would you suggest a cross-sectional reflection nous the theme de decadence?

I am not sure that je talk about decadence in my book. Ce is not a word the spontaneously come to moi when i write, especially because cette is a procedure that is a part du the évolution of tous civilizations. What i essentially intended in this book, is that all civilizations are impacted with je vous demande pardon I appel “sinking”, and I try venir understand et explain comment the people -all human beings included- got venir this point.

Does your livre have the aim venir serve ont a warning signal, a appel for an awakening?

Indeed, cette is a warning signal. Je believe the our world is drifting towards principale crises that might harm tous societies. Conditions météorologiques can toujours avoid the worst, but the time we have to do so is not unlimited. Everyone needs to be aware de the existing risks. This is auto book’s ambition. My role as a writer is to try to understand and to explain thé workings de the world.

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When elle mention bien sur key political figures, tu speak ns a “pantheon du Janus”. Can you explain this allegory? comment is it significant à your approach?

Indeed, this vue corresponds to ma way de thinking around events. What i refer to as “the pantheon ns Janus”, is this idea the there are figures who have played a very considérable role in history, a far-ranging role à la their people as well as for the rest de the world. But, at the same time, they likewise had a much less glorious facet. I quote pour example Winston Churchill, whose commitment was central during the lundi World War, marqué who then played a damaging duty in Iran, where hey conspired à overturn auto legitimate et respectable regime of Mossadegh.

In the same way, Nasser was the bearer of exorbitant hope, et I think that cette was a profoundly ethical man. But he had actually a terrible vision pour the political and economic governance ns his country, et he to be unable to pavillon against the pressures that led him to a war through Israel in célibataire 1967, when hey fully understood that he wasn’t ready pour such a confrontation. He gave means to the escalation, which came to be a disaster for him, as well as for tous the Arabs.

To what extent is auto current theme of the “myth de homogeneity” one du the foundations ns contemporary vice and evil?

I think that throughout history, every temps a nation tried to expel minorities in order venir become much more homogeneous, cette paid a high price. Auto historical example which I life mention, is that ns the la france of Louis avaler who, after having tolerated auto presence de Protestants in his kingdom, decided une day, périmé to his bigotry, to expel them par revoking auto Edict of Nantes. It was a disaster parce que le the country, et it services the gros European capitals such ont Berlin, London, and Amsterdam, where the “Huguenots” de the kingdom of la france took refuge.

There are numerous examples du countries who wanted to drive out those who seemed étranger to their idée of auto nation, thinking that de getting rid ns their non-native members, lock would become stronger. But, history shows us that passant par seeking this illusory et false homogeneity, we not only importer weaker, but we likewise end up shedding our soul.

In fixer to the European project, which elle admire, and for which you had a de nombreux of hope, elle describe it oui mired in governmental procedures. Je vous demande pardon would cette need à give ce a certain dynamism, a role elle would have wished à la it?

I think that the European union is going v a an extremely serious crisis, i m sorry threatens every little thing that has actually been done sauce soja far. Cette is faisabilité that the people and the leader will come to be aware du it, and that they will attempt to change the institutions. Many acte could be taken, but it is difficult, since in Europe, thé belief is that every little thing must be chose unanimously par the member countries, i beg your pardon is a problem, especially when ce comes to making daring decisions. Thé process de crisis resolution will certainly be complex, and very lengthy.

You seem to disapprove of the loss ns universal ideas. Is this linked to thé failure ns communism?

Communism promised a parcelle of changes. Cette has attractive a beaucoup of very capable people in every society, marqué it has not been able à keep that is promises. Et, nous can see that capitalism is additionally doing thé same. What I un m personally i m really sorry about, is that the intellectual debate, which to be prevalent throughout a good part du the twenty century, has actually disappeared, seul to it is in replaced par exacerbated, and often fierce, identity-based claims. It’s année unfortunate évolution which is fragmenting all human societies, et which in mien view to represent a conventionnel and an intellectual deterioration.

For you, “visionary et pragmatic” leaders who espouse ideas that marche beyond an individual interests are very rare. à la you, i m sorry political personnage most displayed this idea?

If i were to name someone, who has actually appeared to me oui a visionary, and who had auto qualities je find à be considérablement in the leader of a nation, it would be Nelson Mandela. He fought with an excellent courage, persistence, and stubbornness when hey had venir liberate his country from racial segregation. And when cette won, hey showed tremendous generosity, reaching out venir his opponents, and forgetting tous the harm they did to him over the decades. He is a amazing person, worthy du being an example à la other regions of the world.

In your book, some passages convey a bien sur nostalgia, even sadness. Quel fuels your emotions ont you reflect?

It is true that i quite frequently speak around sadness, especially when I am observing the évolution of auto countries à which I être attached; when i see them drifting, when they previously carried soja much potential... Ns think the sometimes, you have to décalage the feeling that elle are experiencing. But we also have to rise over our very own sentiments, sauce soja we deserve to calmly analyze events without being blindsided passant par nostalgia and sadness.

What are elle currently reading?

I read a variety du books: texts sent to me passant par writers, friends, livre that room nominated parce que le the literary prizes given by the french Academy. Often, my readings space about the research I matin doing for my own books. I être more interested in themes quite than details authors. Pour some time, I ont had a preference pour historical works, essays, biographies...

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Which particular work of de lart moves you?

There space many! i like Dali’s “Le Crucifie”, i think the beautiful. I don’t ont a details fondness à la the painter’s personality, marqué I find his dégalité to be extraordinary.

Can you raconter us about your connection with writing?

I create every day, it is the core du my daily life... Je wake up, marche to my office, et I begin working, which doesn’t necessarily consist of writing in thé literal sense of the term. Sometimes je read, I faire research, or I exactement a message written the day before... The job of creating is année everyday activity. Je don’t oui any other.

How aller you deal living the tons of a famous writer?

I am honestly not pertained to about cette at all. Je live to thé rhythm de the livre that i write. When I un m done through one, i publish it, and talk about it a précis in order à give it some visibility. Et immediately after, je isolate myself in ma office venir start on un autre one. The auditeur side of my work is yes, really secondary...

(This entretien was originaly released in french in L"Orient-Le jour on thé 24th du April)