Monday, June 16, 2014

Reader's Diary #1134- Hassan Nasr, translated by William Hutchins: A Feast

My first reading of Hassar Nasr's "A Feast" left me feeling somewhat disarmed. The ending came fast, from left field, and like a dump of putrid cynicism.

But now I've had time to digest it (mmmm....putrid cynicism), I think there was more empathy than I first realized. Like all good parables, "A Feast" does a great job of boiling down truth to its essence. It tells of a king and how he descends (deceivingly) rapidly into such self-centeredness that he loses touch with his kingdom. When he wanders into one of his kingdom's poorer neighbourhoods, let's just say they are less than respectful. For the briefest of moments it would appear that these people are no better. Is Nasr's thinly disguised metaphor for a revolution his way of suggesting that it's hypocritical to burn effigies and demand the blood of your dictator? But those feelings passed and I begun to see that there's more understanding than finger waving. The king in this story dehumanized himself, the people didn't do it. And, while I knew the author was Tunisian and that's what probably led me to the revolution interpretation, it's quite possible this story is a warning to anyone who isolates themselves from others. As someone with hermit tendencies, it's not lost on me.

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