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A Splendid Conspiracy (2010)

by Albert Cossery(Favorite Author)
3.91 of 5 Votes: 5
0811217795 (ISBN13: 9780811217798)
New Directions
review 1: Cossery, Albert (1913-2008). A SPLENDID CONSPIRACY. (pub. in 1975 as “Un Complot de Saltimbauques” in France; this ed. 2010). ****. Cassery was a well-known writer in Europe and the Middle East, but was practically unknown in this country. He wrote eight novels during his career, this one translated from the French by Alyson Waters. Cossery was born and lived in Cairo. He wrote all his books in French. Overall, his method reminds me of the group I call the philosophical novelists, e.g., Camus, Sartre, Sinclair, and Rand. There’s even a touch of Kafka in his technique. There are two parallel plots running here. Each reflects a philosophy of life; each in conflict with the other. The “hero” of one of the plots is Teymour. Teymour is the son of a rich t... morerader in Egypt who has – ostensibly – spent six years in Europe studying to get his degree in Chemical Engineering. He really hasn’t been doing anything except having a good time on papa’s money. Suddenly, his father – under the threat of cutting off his allowance – calls him home. He wants to see the results of his supporting six years of “study.” In a panic, Teymour manages to buy a diploma that he can show his father. When he gets to Egypt, he is immediately immersed into a fit of depression because he’s now stuck in a small town that cannot offer the delights of the various European cities he had become used to. He soon meets up with two old friends of his who have since devoted theior lives to pleasure. Their belief is that it is a sin to waste your life with ambition in a world that is thoroughly at odds to everything that requires effort. They have become supreme hedonists. They attract the attention of the local police chief because at about the same time that he recognizes them as a “group,” high-up officials in the government and in the world of business begin to disappear. To the police chief, this suggests that this group is a terrorist cell and he immediately begins to collect information on its members and their activities. The information that comes back to the chief tells him that the only interest of the group is having fun. This means drinking, seducing young women, and gambling. Having fun as the sole aim of life is a philosophy the chief cannot identify with and his belief that they are terrorists deepens. When the group realizes that they are being viewed as terrorists, they use this to develop schemes to heighten their pleasure.. I can’t give away the ending, but it is the clash of two philosophies of life. Recommended.
review 2: Do the arts express universal constants from culture to culture? This book, by the Egyptian Albert Cossery, answer in the affirmative: corruption, hypocrisy, political ideologies and erotic drives abound among the human community, in large cities and third-world backwaters. . . Cossery's black humor ranges from gentle jibes to bleak quotidian tragedies, and Aylson Waters's translation conveys the tale in a seamless, natural-sounding narrative. less
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A nice enough Mahfouzian tale, but seems there are a few loose ends moving around the case.
Piquant, exotic, and wonderful.
Very enjoyable.
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