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Jonathan McAloon on Mathias Énard
In a review of Mathias Énard’s Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants, Jonathan McAloon uses the novel’s publication as an occasion to look back at the author’s work to date:
Tell Them of Battles uses the religious prejudice of the past both to validate Michelangelo as an authentic figure and to establish him as a signpost in Enard’s own wandering quest for a literary Orient, one free of patronising otherness. Franz Ritter [as the narrator of Compass] is drawn to “non-places, utopias, ideological fantasies in which many who had wanted to travel had got lost”: places littered with “the bodies of artists, poets and travellers”. So is Enard. The Bosphorus is a “beautiful place between two shores” which Enard’s books seek to inhabit. The idea of a literary Orient is Enard’s destination. A place all books and all the stories ever told can meet: an ideal place worthy of his long sentences.