Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 19

Dear Gemma

As you can see, I've finally overcome my prejudices & opened a Hotmail account so we can keep in touch.

Have found out only a little bit more about Giovanni Allegrezza. He definitely existed, was associated with Hassan-i-Sabbah, when he went by the name of Rashid al'Farah. I've traced his journey here to Bukhara, & I've got access to some archival material where I might be able to find out more.

I'll probably stay here for a couple of years. Have settled in, learnt some of the local language from the couple that look after the house. Get around in a duppi, the local headgear. I've had a circular one made for me, with a sort of mandala as the design.

Lots of interesting stuff here, but not much of local interest. Doesn't seem to be a great deal of literary activity going on. Check out http://www.oxuscom.com/uzbegim.htm for an example of some contemporary Uzbek poetry. There's a rough English translation included on the website. What has caused this dearth of modern writing is highlighted by verse #24. "Pushkin is one world / Byron another. / Like Navoii my forefather / the Uzbek sky makes my heart beat."

'Navoii' is Alisher Navoi, who lived five hundred years ago. A sort of Pessoa who wrote under one name in Turkiye, & another in Farsi. Prolific as all hell – excuse my French; poems, plays, ghazals (they quite often translate the word as gazelles which makes me smile). Streets, buildings, schools are all named after him. His work hangs over everything, & the local writers seem unable to break free. They're bringing out his collected works, a new volume every year. He's quite interesting. I'll translate some of his work & send it to you.

I hope things are going well & that the Vatican isn't getting you down. Look after yourself, & I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Lots of love

Umberto

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