Count Almásy reappears in Madrid, in good firm | Culture | EUROtoday

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Count Almásy has returned. With all the things intact: his love for the desert, his flying glasses and his inextinguishable want to seek out the oasis of Zerzura, El Dorado of the dunes. Almásy has reappeared (“this time you are going to find Zerzura, right?”) on the Ateneo de Madrid and in superb firm. As a part of a convention program devoted to explorers and adventurers of the twentieth century who share an obsession bordering on the pathological for the audio system who introduced them. The 4 characters of the cycle even have in widespread. Geographical explorations and archeology within the interwar interval: gents, spies and adventurers in quest of historical civilizations (by title that doesn’t stay) none seem—unjustifiably for my part—within the voluminous and in any other case stupendous Explorers Love Dictionary by Michel Le Bris (Plon, 2010), during which, however, they’ve entries, other than numerous Frenchmen, Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, and Blake and Mortimer. I say that these in query would deserve extra to be there: Leo Frobenius, John Pendlebury, Byron Khun de Prorok and let's not speak about Almásy, the one one of many 4 who has a film.

Frobenius, referred to as with notable enthusiasm the German Lawrence of Arabia, was dropped at us on the Ateneo by Rocío Da Riva, virtually as severe because the Prussian Africanist; to Pendlebury, who joined forces to excavate at Tell el Amarna and Knossos and manage the Cretan guerrilla towards the Nazis, Ángel Carlos Aguayo; and Khun of Prorok, who excavated within the tofet of Carthage, sought the mines of King Solomon and the dominion of Sheba, in competitors with Malraux (which does seem chez Le Bris), all this with out ceasing to be a cussed liar, Jorge García Sánchez. I took Almásy, in fact.

The English Patient (1996)
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Shown: Ralph Fiennes
The English Patient (1996) Directed by Anthony Minghella Shown: Ralph Fiennes

Or maybe I ought to say I embodied him, given the diploma of identification I’ve with the character and that far exceeds in unhealthy depth something that my cycle companions may throw at him. So a lot in order that not solely may I exclaim to myself in the course of my speak in a match of enthusiasm “Almásy it's me!”, however my lecture (titled Almásy, the romantic depend of the sands) was to fall virtually on February 23: Almásy and a server share having participated in two coups d'état; I, unintentionally, within the one in Tejero and he within the way more glamorous one of many restoration try of the previous Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles in 1921. For my half, I didn’t get a lot out of the expertise, leaving alive and with a narrative to inform time and again. time as a Scheherazade of the Military Police. On the opposite hand, Almásy took the title of depend—considerably by the way in which—as a result of Carlos addressed him that manner, certainly complicated him with another person. As if Pardo Zancada had greeted me as a lieutenant and I had saved the rank. Lieutenant Anton.

Almásy, in the center, in wadi Sura with the infiltration group of Operation S
Almásy, within the heart, in wadi Sura with the infiltration group of Operation S

In my speak, to which I got here carrying a superb a part of my Almasyan bibliography, together with a small e-book stolen from the library of his household's fort and a few relics similar to a button from Almásy's tunic, obtained surreptitiously throughout the identical visit-pilgrimage to Burg Bernstein, I attempted to attract the profile of the actual adventurer who impressed Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient and the following movie. Marking the variations between, on the one hand, the wiry Lászlo Ede Almásand the actual one, alias Teddyhussar and aviator within the Great War, automotive check pilot, daring explorer of the Libyan desert later put on the service of Rommel's forces throughout World War II to hold out particular missions and information the spy Eppler along with his copy of Rebeca behind enemy traces (not out of affection as within the movie however out of conviction: his nation, Hungary, was an ally of the Germans), Iron Cross firstclass, and gay. And however, the tormented (and burned) Count Ladislaus of Almásy within the novel and cinematography, the rapturous adventurer with the on-screen options of Ralph Fiennes, utterly and tragically in love with one other's spouse; certainly: Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Oh, Katharine, too fiery for the desert. “Her fingers were scratching the sand in my hair.”

Almásy (Fiennes) and Katharine (Scott Thomas) in 'The English Patient'.
Almásy (Fiennes) and Katharine (Scott Thomas) in 'The English Patient'.

But whereas I used to be speaking, the Almásys acquired combined up. The actual one, the literary one, the celluloid one in all Minghella and myself, who has been following them for therefore a few years that I’ve merged with all three and I even suppose I may fly an airplane, map the Farafra and comply with a path within the Gilf Kebir. Not to say having a date within the Swimmers' Cave in Wadi Sora or in that room on Parrot Street in Cairo that ignored the souk, to discover along with your lips, Alas, the Almásy Bosphorus (some will want juicier elements than the vascular synoid or suprasternal notch, that's as much as them). I defined then, underneath a display screen on which the picture of an outdated map that I personal and during which the unknown Zerzura (whose fascination unites all of us Almásy) inexplicably seems, the story of my dazzlement. Which started when studying the novel in 1995, which grew to become incandescent when watching the film in 1996 (the identical yr I started saber fencing with the Hungarian grasp Imre Dobos) and which was mirrored in a sequence of articles that began within the programmatic and eloquent Count Almásy, an obsession (June 28, 1997) and proceed to this present day, as you see.

  Almásy, on one of his expeditions through the Libyan desert in the mid-1930s.
Almásy, on one in all his expeditions by means of the Libyan desert within the mid-Thirties.Hans G. Caspari (Getty)

Along the way in which, I’ve been discovering fragments of the lifetime of the true Almásy, in his personal books (Swimmers within the desert, With Rommel’s Army in Lybia) and in others (Lybian Sands y Sand, Wind & War of his colleague-enemy Bagnold, the monumental Operation Salamby Gross, Rolke and Zboray), in biographies which can be showing (the very best being that of John Bierman, The secret lifetime of Lászlo Almásy, the actual english affected person) or in likelihood discoveries (the connection with Orde Wingate, the potential one with Paddy Leigh Fermor and with Otto Skorzeny). And I reside my almasianism as a cult, a devotion and a priesthood. On one event, I went to the Ponce Museum of Art, in Puerto Rico, to ponder the great portray King Candaules (1859), by Gérôme, which captures the well-known episode of that story by Herodotus during which the monarch's queen undresses earlier than her husband's hidden lieutenant at his request and which Katharine narrates in a central second of the e-book and the film stuffed with double meanings. I even wrote the prologue to the Catalan version of The English Patient! (“Of love and other deserts”).


Honestly, I assumed I used to be over it. But it has been placing on my goggles and flying cap once more (figuratively and actually), for the gig on the Ateneo, and hey, spinning across the Sea of ​​Sand once more, cradled by Marta Sebastyen's lullaby (Love love) and scanning flashes among the many orange dunes. I'm afraid it's one thing persistent.

An image of 'The English Patient'
An picture of 'The English Patient'

After two lengthy hours of speaking in a state of romantic intoxication, I spotted that I had an viewers. It was like popping out of a dream or a hike by means of the desert with out a hat. At least folks had been wide-eyed. I had dinner with Pendlebury and Khun from Prorok, that’s, with Ángel Carlos and Jorge—who very generously gave me the edited script of The English Patient, a treasure—and I left at midnight with out a mounted vacation spot (it was already too late for the Ave and I had forgotten to e-book a lodge). The night time in Madrid was darkish, vast and lonely. And the backpack, crammed with books and enriched with a bottle of Hungarian Tokay wine that had been offered to me, weighed one congo. But all I needed was to stroll by means of a land with out maps. And savor my rediscovered ardour. “We die with a rich baggage of lovers and tribes, flavors that we have tasted, bodies in which we have immersed ourselves and that we have swum through as if they were rivers of wisdom, characters that we have climbed as if they were trees, fears in the that we have hidden ourselves like caves,” I recited. And I added in a closing invocation because the night time swallowed me just like the sand to the ghost military of Cambyses: “I wish that all this would be inscribed on my body when I die.”

All the tradition that goes with you awaits you right here.



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