Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Voices of Marrakesh

A fascinating "travel book" by Nobel Prize winner, Elias Canetti, from Bulgaria. Canetti describes the traditions, sights, and especially the sounds of Marrakesh, Morocco. The descriptions are amazing and I was intrigued as I learned more about the people of Morocco.
Here is an example of Canetti's writing as he compares and contrasts himself as a writer to the storytellers on the main plaza of Marrakesh:
"There were times when I would have given a great deal to be able to, and I hope the day will come whe I can appreciate these itinerant storytellers as they deserve to be appreciated. Bt I was also glad that I could not understand them. For me, they remained an enclave of ancient, untouched existence. Their language was as important to them as mine to me. Words were their nourishment, and they let no one seduce them into exchanging it for a better form of nourishment. I was proud of the power of storytelling that I witnessed them wielding over their linguistic fellows. I saw them as elders and better brothers to myself. In happy moments I told myself: I too can gather people round me to whom I tell stories; and they too listen to me. But instead of roaming from place to place never knowing whom I will find, whose ears will receive my story, instead of living in utter dependence on my story itself I have dedicated myself to paper. I live now behind the protection of desk and door, a craven dreamer, and they in the bustle of the marketplace, among a hundred strange faces that are different every day, unburdened by cold, superflous knowledge, without books, ambtion, or empty respectability. Having seldom felt at ease among the people of our zones whose life is literature--despising them because I despise something about myself, and I think that something is paper--I suddenly found myself here amon authors I could look up to since there was not of theirs to read."

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