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Alamut is the first-ever English translation of Slovenian writer Vladimir Bartol’s near-forgotten masterpiece – a bestseller across Europe and translated into 19 languages nearly 60 years after its initial publication – based on the life and legend of the original “assassin” and world’s first political terrorist, 11th century Ismaili leader Hasan ibn Sabbah.
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.