Coproduced with Salzburger Festspiele
28 July 2005
Salzburger Festspiele festival
8 October 2005
… Most of all, Alamut was and is simply a great read, imaginative, erudite, dynamic and humorous, a well-told tale set in an exotic time and place, yet populated by characters with universally recognizable ambitions, dreams and imperfections. Both at home and abroad, it continues to be perhaps the most popular book that Slovenia has ever produced, with recent translations of Alamut having become bestsellers in Germany, France and Spain. But despite its surface appearance as popular literature, Alamut is also a finely wrought, undiscovered minor masterpiece which offers the reader a wealth of meticulously planned and executed detail and broad potential for symbolic, intertextual and philosophical interpretation.
First and foremost, Alamut offers a thorough deconstruction of ideology-extending to all dogmatic ideologies that defy common sense and promise the kingdom of God in exchange for one’s life or one’s freedom to judge and make choices. (…) At its extreme, Hasan’s rationalism proclaims the absence of absolute moral restraints, the supremacy of power as the ruling force of the world, and the imperative of manipulating lesser human beings to achieve maximum power and further his own ends-formally articulated in his sect’s supreme maxim: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”
Bartol incorporated many of his own qualities and personal interests into his portraits of Hasan and the novel’s other characters. He was an avid student of philosophy, history, mathematics, and the natural sciences. He was an amateur entomologist and (like another Vladimir, four years his senior and the author of a book called Lolita) an avid lepidopterist. In a country of mountain climbers, Bartol literally climbed with the very best of them. Like a famous French writer three years his senior, he was an enthusiastic and skilled small aircraft pilot-and all of this just as a prelude to his career as a writer. An individual who is that inquisitive and that eager for experience is either driven and obsessed, or in love with life. In his private life, Bartol was an example of the latter personality type, but in his novel he chose to portray an extreme version of the former.
Bartol himself told of being approached on the street years later by one of his old schoolmates, who told him, “I read your translation and really enjoyed it.” “What translation?” Bartol replied. “That fat novel, the one that was written by some English or Indian author,” the man explained. “Do you mean Alamut?” Bartol asked. “I wrote that.” The man laughed at this and waved dismissively,”Go on, get out of here. You can’t fool me.” And then he walked away.
Michael Biggins, from Afterword to Alamut, Scala House Press 2004.
Sebastijan Horvat – Montblanc Patron’s Award for Best Director in the Young Directors Project I Competition at the Salzburger Festspiele for Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut
Katona József Színáz Budapest
Theatre Verdi in Gorica (Italy)
Slovenian Permanent Theatre Trieste (Italy)
Macedonian National Theatre Skopje
Atelje 212 Belgrade