World's masterpiece | novel Alamut
Al Araf (english)
Al Araf (english)

Al Araf (english)

Author: Vladimir Bartol Publisher: Sanje Language: English Translation: Michael Biggins

After the epic breadth of Alamut, these short stories reveal a different Bartol, an ingenious storyteller. From story to story, the characters and plots add up to create a portrait of the modern man. The stories, owing much to Bartol’s own experience and to his thorough knowledge of psychology, biology, history and especially philosophy, also abound in fantasy and romance. They keep slipping across genre boundaries, from erotic-romantic prose through adventure or crime story to science fiction, always to return to the urgent themes of the collection Al Araf as a whole: problems of knowledge, power, freedom. Al Araf is both a picture of the apocalyptic schizophrenia of contemporary man and a map of his future.

A book of twenty-seven tense short stories, carried by a current of extraordinary insight and energy, in a brilliant English translation by Michael Biggins.

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    In the Qur'an, al-Araf is the wall between Paradise and Hell - the wall of knowledge. In this collection of twenty-seven suspenseful short stories, we get to meet Bartol as an extremely insightful and witty author who was ahead of his time in Slovenia.

    Sixty-seven years neglected, Al Araf is a book of novellas carried by a current of extraordinary insight and energy. From novella to novella, the writer escalates the issues facing 20th century man to astonishing proportions. Al Araf is an apocalypse of modern man's schizophrenia and a map of his future.

    This collection of dramatic stories, written by Bartol on the basis of his own experience and his deep knowledge of psychology, biology, history and especially philosophy, is not lacking in fantasy, love and even fiction. His writing ranges widely across genres: from trivial, erotic-love fiction, through adventure-crime genre to science fiction. Through the intense interplay of scholarship and imagination, a remarkable will to inner strength and freedom is evident throughout his oeuvre. In Al Araf, Bartol is interested in people who have personal power, who can master the jungles of society - those who "dart like pikes among carp" with poise and valour.

    In the opinion of some, Bartol's best work, and one that should definitely be enjoyed by English-speaking readers!



    Medijski odzivi

    Like Borges, [Bartol] raises questions but offers few answers … and will leave you with an inexhaustible restlessness and uncertainty.

    (Ricardo Arturo Ríos Torres, La Prensa)

    More Information
    Issue date _EMPTY__VALUE_
    Format 152 x 235
    Scope 384
    ISBN /
    translators Michael Biggins
    Editor Rok Zavrtanik
    Co-authors Uredil /Line editing: David Limon
    Collection SANJE roman
    Publisher Sanje
    Language English

    The line will be drawn between the elected and the rejected. There will be men at Al-Araf who will know both the former and the latter.

    Vladimir Bartol

    Vladimir Bartol

    Vladimir Bartol (1903–1967)

    writer, playwright, essayist, and critic. Born in Trieste, Vladimir Bartol was one of Slovenia’s leading intellects and an author of plays, short stories and theater reviews. During the 1920s, he studied at the universities of Paris and Ljubljana, concentrating on philosophy, world religions, psychology (he was among the first to introduce Freud’s teachings in the former Yugoslavia) and biology. During World War II, he participated in the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation of former Yugoslavia.

    Alamut, the second of his two novels, represents the culminating point of his ideas and experiences of totalitarianism during the years before and after World War II. Vladimir Bartol did not live to experience the tremendous success of his novel Alamut, even though he had suspected and predicted it. Over the years, Alamut has been published more than 70 times. The success dreamt of by the author is thus becoming a reality.

    Bartol died on 12 September 1967 in Ljubljana, 64 years old, with most of his work out of print and was at the time virtually unknown among his countrymen.

    Besides Alamut his major works are Lopez (1932, drama), Al Araf (1934, collection of short stories), Tržaške humoreske (1952), Mladost pri Svetem Ivanu (1955–56, autobiography).

    Most of his works are currently being rediscovered and republished by Sanje.


    It is striking that in his diary, Bartol predicted his first international success with astonishing precision:

    “I will be understood by the public in 50 years” …1938 – and the first success of Alamut in France in 1988.

    “I had a feeling I was writing for a public who was going to live 50 years later…”

    “I finished Alamut at 5.45 a.m. Pleased. These final days I kept trembling for someone not to steal it from me, for a fire not to start, or for something else not to happen.

    Towards the end I fancied that someone could even have killed me or I could have met with an accident, Alamut was chiefly completed. Yet it was not until I put down the last letter that I felt

    really at ease. Let someone kill me - in Alamut, I am going to be immortal.”

    – Vladimir Bartol, Diary, Sunday, 24 July 1938



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