Memories: the story of my meeting with Professor Alfred Louis de Bremar

That was about twenty years ago. I was on an appointment with Professor Alfred Louis de Bremar, professor at the University of Aix-en-Provence, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and author of the book “The Foundation of Islam between Writing and History” published in its Arabic translation by Dar Al-Saqi in 2009. I had an appointment with him to discuss this book with him and about his general theory of heritage. By the way, I am the translator of this important book, not the pseudonym: Issa Mahsabi. This is a secret I’re revealing here for the first time. Professor George Tarabishi, may God have mercy on him, hurried him to put this fictitious name on him after he found that I was hesitant or a little afraid to reveal my personal name. We were still terrified in the time of fundamentalists and fundamentalists. Why are we terrified when the book is purely academic of the highest levels? God is a disaster. I swear by God misfortune. The Christian heritage in the West has thousands of modern critical studies, and no one is afraid of it. It rather gets brighter and brighter afterwards. As for us, it is strictly forbidden to say a single word about heritage, except for those said about it by the obsolete traditionalists. How can we dissolve, to progress, in such an atmosphere? Are we written stagnation and stagnation forever? Do we have to repeat and chew endlessly? Herein lies the greatest historical blockade of the Arabs. For this reason, we became involved in illuminating studies on heritage, and at the beginning of this century we experienced moments of true cultural fermentation. These were the days of the “Arab Institution for Intellectual Modernization” founded by Muhammad Abdul Muttalib al-Huni, George Tarabishi, Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, Muhammad Arkoun, and the rest of the Poles of the Arab-Islamic Enlightenment. And let us not forget the green chaste that embraced the philosophy of the lights, and did not succumb to the wave of political Islam or politicization, even when it was at the height of its rise and tyranny. This is the institution that tried to break the historical blockade or open a gap in the blocked wall of history. For this reason, it held a major conference for Arab intellectuals in Beirut in 2004 and achieved some significant achievements in translation and writing after being held in the so-called “Arab Rationalist League” in the hands of Tarabshi, Raja Ben Salama, dr. Al-Huni himself, etc. It was a wonderful moment of radiance in a sea of ​​darkness. It took me almost two years to translate this academic book. I was in constant contact with Professor de Bremar, who helped me with his advice, guidance and legacy documents to complete them in the best possible way.

But after this extensive preface, let’s get to the heart of the matter. After being greeted by the great orientalist at Avignon, a station that surprised me with its sharp modernity, I come from Paris, we went to have lunch in a restaurant lost in the field … Oh, how delicious is it to be far from Paris with your back to the noise of the capitals! We were alone in a large French-style restaurant that could accommodate at least a hundred people. We were the only two and were surrounded by a crowd of hosts and hostesses who looked after us and made sure we were comfortable. How can you find such worship and glorification in Paris? Not at all. They hardly serve you, or feel your presence. All around you is the soothing calm, the shadows of giant antique trees and the tranquility of the French countryside. I told Professor Dupremar: People do not live in Paris, people plunder life, or say that life plunders, consumes and exhausts them. People chase underground and over the ground like ants. Is this life?


At the end of the meal, I had an idea. I knew the house of the great poet René Char was in the area, but I was afraid that it was too far away, and that I would cost my host what he could not afford. Nevertheless, I dared to ask him: Where is the city of Lille-sur-La-Sorge, where is the city? I told him the story and said that I had long dreamed of visiting it to see the place where this poet lived, for whom he had left all of Paris. I especially wanted to see the Sorg River cutting through the city, immortalized by the great poet with a poem of determination. To my surprise, Mr Dobrimar immediately got up and said to me: Come along, it’s only ten minutes by car. And the surprise was great … And so I see the city and the beautiful river, which bequeathed its charming charm. I will not translate a single letter from that famous poem here because it is vertical rhyme, and therefore I fear I will kill her if I translate it. If it was a prose poem I would have done it, but the adventure here is not a guaranteed sequel. Maybe it provoked laughter and ridicule. Who can translate poetry? Jean-Paul Sartre once said: Poetry does not translate. The case is over.

On the way home, Professor de Bremar points his hand out of the car window to a remote area and tells me: There is the spa where the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch stayed. I said to him: Please stop! Can we visit him? He laughed and said, “Yes, we can.” Then he adds, “I did not know you love nature so much.”

And so we came across that beautiful region where Petrarch was heading, and it was more beautiful than the city of René Char. Her beauty was so striking. I wish I had stayed there forever. A rushing river greets you and flows beneath your feet in an area of ​​trees, forests, mountains and waterfalls. It’s nature’s wedding … You can barely see the sky above you. But there was a rock hanging like a disk on top of the mountain that worried me. I said to him: Won’t you fall on our heads if we keep walking in the valley until we are exactly below it? He replied: As far as I know, it has been here for ten centuries and so far no one has fallen on anyone’s head … Then he adds: When Petrarca was plagued by the disasters of the time, he would come here grab to have fun, to forget, to be comforted:

They make me so suspicious

My hands read them by touch

Here he remembers “Laura”, that radiant woman whose face he saw one day when she left the church in Avignon, with a stunned and stunned pride on his face. Exaggerations and exaggerations? Rare. Who knows when the thunder of love will fall on him? Who knows when love will strike a blow? This is something that only happens once in a lifetime. Do not desire more than that. Shark! And when that happens, you feel like the gates of heaven have opened wide in front of you … Petrarch’s love for Laura was pure virgin, like Majnun’s love for Layla or Jamil Buthaina or Dhul-Rama and Mai, etc. Because she was married and he did not want anything from her. He just wanted to see a glimpse of her from time to time.

Rene Shar

Then Laura died in the prime of her youth and turned into an angelic legend. And until the last moment of his life, he talked to her and wrote her poems. And he was confident that he would meet her in the next world, where there are no problems or complications, where eternity and eternity:

If he was honored in the world to meet you

In the position of the crowd we meet you and we receive

Your poor unhappy friend Ibn Zaydun what else! He too was sad and dreamed of seeing a birth on Resurrection Day after she beat him and wiped the ground with it … But it is said that she changed her point of view and regretted what was over, as it turns out she says these two verses:

I’m jealous of you and myself

From you, from your time and place

Even if I put you in my eyelids

Until the Day of Resurrection, what will suffice me?

In fact, Petrarca was a prolific character full of contradictions. He was born in 1304 and died in 1379: that is, in a changing period in which the Middle Ages had not yet died, nor had modern times been born. These are periods that usually give birth to torn and divided personalities, just like the Arab-Islamic era in which we live today. It is an era of transition, alienation and severe internal bleeding. Petrarca was torn between the past and the present, between Christianity and paganism, between sensual pleasure and hermit asceticism, between poetry and prose … He was a wicked man who was deeply involved in the lusts of this world in his early youth, before the psychological crisis that later turned him into an ascetic, hermit, lonely. He was a political activist who did not hesitate to play dangerous roles and carry out secret missions entrusted to him by princes, popes and kings. He was surrounded by friends and admirers, and his house was always full of people. Nevertheless, he felt lonely or lonely and swept over him from within. He always said this wonderful phrase that healed and healed me: I always feel thirsty in my heart! He could not easily reconcile his deep religious beliefs with his passion for pre-Christian Greco-Roman civilization. In a nutshell: His heart was on one side, and his mind was on the other side. Be kind to confused souls, with broken wings!

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