Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’élephants, by Mathias Enard, was a terrific starting point for a discussion not only of the novel itself (about the mysterious and undocumented journey that Michelangelo made to Istanbul to design a bridge for the Golden Horn that would connect the two halves of the city) but also of other issues more or less related to the text, from the representation of otherness and the conflict between Orientalism and the reality of the East to Picasso and the great artists that in one way or another we read through Michelangelo and his way of thinking and practising total art. The conversation was very interesting and the large turnout participated enthusiastically.
Sketches illustrating an article about Michelangelo’s supposed visit to Istanbul. Source
‘I was almost annoyed that it was a bridge that Michelangelo was to have created in Istanbul,’ Mathias told us during the conversation: ‘The image of the bridge joining the two shores, uniting East and West, seemed too much of a stereotype, but it would appear that it really is what he was going to do there.’ The almost accidental discovery of a brief ambiguous note about this journey in a biography of the artist was the starting point of this novel, which involved research in Rome, Istanbul and Florence, among other cities.
The guest at our next session will be Eduard Vallès, for a discussion of Picasso, retratos y recuerdos, by Jaume Sabartés.