Thanks for adding your thoughts to this thread. I must admit I was at a bit of a loss on how to proceed with it. Ali was being cagey (though amusing) about the issue of the arabic reaction to Whittemore.
I am currently re-reading Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past". The narrator has a tendency to romanticise places through his imaginative response to the place names.
I think we all have a tendency to do this. We have to actually visit the place to find the reality.
Whittemore of course knew the real places he was writing about and was familiar with the culture and history of them.
: I've enjoyed reading your dialogue with Ali,
: though the one primary question-that is to
: hear an Arabic take on the novels-for which I
: anticipated a more honest and open response
: was dismissed with amusing rhetoric and
: creative assumptions.
: I too am curious to hear how Whittemore's
: portrayal of the Middle East, especially
: Jerusalem and Cairo, resonates with someone
: who has significantly experienced these
: cities. My experience, at this point, is
: limited to textbook knowledge of the history
: of the Middle East, and thus my opinion of
: Whittemore's Middle East may differ
: considerably from one's who was born in and
: experienced, say, Jerusalem. In what ways is
: Whittmore's portrayal accurate? In what ways
: is it imaginative? Dramatized? For the same
: reason, Anne, your understanding of the Deep
: Southern USA may drastically differ from my
: own-I am a Georgian-after reading Dickey's
: Deliverance. Is Whittemore's Middle East
: looked at with indignation? Disgust? Insult?
: Appreciation? Exultation? This is the Arabic
: take that I want to hear. How do these
: novels make you feel as a native of Jerusalem
: or Cairo? Where, in the novels, is
: Whittemore way off base? Where is he fair?
: Where is he truthful?
: As for Whittemore's archetypes, the
: implication that they are purely imaginative
: is terribly unfounded and insultingly
: simplistic. Because the background of the
: novels is based on factual, documented
: historical events and places(i.e. Smyrna
: 1922, The Easter Uprising 1916, The Black and
: Tans 1919-1921, Codex Sinaiticus 1859, St
: Catherines Monastery) and several of the
: characters are clearly based on historical
: figures (i.e. Strongbow/Sir Richard Burton
: and Yossi/Eli Cohen), I feel that the
: inclination would be toward assuming that all
: of Whittemore's characters are fantastical
: and rich adaptations of actual historical
: figures and the action of the novels, in
: large part, is driven by his dialectical
: approach to tragic, but actual historical
: events, rather than suggest because of one's
: own imaginative assumption that Whittemore is
: nothing more than a ex-Yalie spook with an
: affinity for arak and cheroot ceegars that
: the archetypes used for his novels are purely
: illusory. The Quartet is inventive and
: (certainly) imaginative, but the roots of
: this inventiveness and imagination are
: embedded in a researched, educated, and
: pondered historical accuracy from a man whose
: ties to the region run deeper than most of us