THE HOUSE OF EDRISIS

A Novel by Ghazaleh Alizadeh

 

Original language: Persian

Translator to English: Rosa Jamali

Number of pages:757 pages in Persian

First publication:Tirajeh, 1991

Type of novel: Dystopian, river-novel (roman-fleuve), Allegory

Theme: The Age of Decline

Plot: A manor house is occupied by government militia and common people, the house ends up in confiscation, some die, some go to exile and others put up with a new situation

Narrative style: Chronological order, flashback

Time: Not specified

Setting: Not specified, Caucasus, Ashkhabad

Point of view: The intrusive omniscient third-person narrator

Literary school : Realist with traces of Surrealism, Symbolist with digressions to Magic realism, some elements of Gothic fiction are seen

Similar novels: George Orwell's Animal Farm

                       Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time 

                       Checkoff's Cherry Orchard 

                       Russian classics

 Language: The book's success is due to its polyphonic structure of juxtaposing highly prestigious literature of Khorasan and street talk used by commoners. Some layers of intertextuality with Persian classical poetry are seen.

Synopsis: Mrs Edrisi lives with her grandson Vahhab and daughter Legha in a secluded mansion, a revolution has just happened in this country, a communist totalitarian government has taken over the properties, an armed group which is called firing-squad occupy their place, groups of people and strangers take refuge in the house; some are recognised to be common people and others are called spies. Vahhab who is a very educated young man is obsessed with the memory of his dead aunt Rahila, among the people who enter the house is a young actress who reminds Vahhab of his aunt. Vahhab falls in love with her,... Roxana who is from Tiblisi and the previous lover of a noted poet called Yuri Marenko, becomes a key character to connect old and new time and to connect people inside and outside the house.

Soldiers of the new government are told to change the life style of these people, to teach them about their revolutionary social values and to ask them help the public who are much in need.


Shoukat who is a revolutionary character and is called by a "Comrade" title is supposed to teach them some proletarian values, she usually criticizes Vahab for being lazy and bookworm, she has a sarcastic way of talking and insults others easily.

Soldiers and comrades set new rules in the house and try to teach the residents the revolutionary goals, they are rough and despotic and they speak very harshly, command and yell at others. They break the valuable stuff and destroy whatever which looks ornamental though they might have a sentimental value for Mrs. Edrisi.

It seems that the soldiers want to teach these aristocrat people a way of life to live in a team of comradeship; deep inside you feel that they have taken over the place to teach their bad culture, radical ideas and inhumane behaviour. They finally steal the valuable stuff in the house and destroy their decorum and propriety.

In season one, we see different groups of people in the house, at the end of this season the house takes a different and new identity when all theses different sorts of people mix. Even the residents of the house change their tone of speaking when they are among newcomers.


In the second season, residents of the house get to know more about the firing centre (headquarter of the new government) and they try to have a sort of interaction with them. Some Like Haddadian turn to become an agent, very hypocrite and manipulative. Little by little fear grows among them and they would like to be in a sort of connection with them.


Roxana turns out to be the spy of firing-squad band and helps them loot the treasure in the house, the residents of the house leave and in a reversal of fortune their lives change dramatically,..In the third season so many stories of marginal characters are told, we learn about Rana, Vahhab's mother who was once in touch with Roxana. Some other characters are created by the descriptions of the main characters...

In the final season, the house is going to be confiscated, Vahhab leaves for Kashmir, Legha becomes a Piano teacher and in the last chapters we face to a sort of ruin in the place of the house.

The author applies a sense of humour when different social classes mix and  their thoughts and dreams are not understood well.

The new residents of the house try to divide the rooms among themselves and at the end they send the household to a dormitory. They try to persuade them that this lazy life style should be stopped for the sake of society. 

They are supposed to provide a fair and just life for all members of the society; this is for the cause of their communist revolution.

There are so many marginal characters in the second book, their stories are told either by the travellers or a moment of remembrance in the household.

Characters all undergo a change and at the end of novel they are totally different people. The aristocrats turn to civil servants of the new government.

Edrisis family don't have a special inclination to a specified religion but the way Lagha worships a holy tapestry might be similar to Christians. The travellers from Moscow and Yalta speak about churches... no key point is available if they are Muslims. 

At the end of novel residents of the house find out that Yuri Marenko is dead, some say it was because of a heart attack and some believe he committed suicide.

At the end of novel we see how all revolutionary slogans have created a new tyranny and how their propaganda machine could take the self-esteem of people, characters like Ghobad fought for freedom and equality but at the end they created a new type of captivity and how their Utopian image turned to a sort of dystopia.


Main characters:

1/THE RESIDENTS OF THE HOUSE:

-Mrs Edrisi, Zoleikha : the landlady , aristocrat, speaks a very decent Persian, she has been in love with Ghobad, a revolutionary Guard from the Fire Centre, she marries but still in love with him

-Vahhab: Mrs Edrisi's grandson, immersed in books

-Roxana: Actress, Vahhab's lover, born and bred in Tbilisi, very much like Nina in Chekhov's THE SEAGULL(appears at the end of book 1) 

-Legha: Mrs Edrisi's elder daughter, peculiar and weird with strange habits 

-Yavar: The old servant, faithful

 

2/THE GATECRASHERS:

-Shoukat : A revolutionary woman from labour party, uses a lot of slangs, she is rough and masculine. wears yellow

-Haddadian: The hypocrite mayor, spy of new government

-Borzu: University student

-Rashid: Factory worker

-Qouqan: Tailor

-Younas: Poet

-Rokhsareh: laundry woman

-Kaveh: Drama Student

-Golrokh

_Shirin

-Koukab

-Pari

-Tourkan

-Rashid

-Ghadir

-Teimour: Gardener

And the guards of the new government mentioned as firing-squad band

 

3/PEOPLE FROM THE PAST:

Rahila: Mrs Edrisi's daughter who died young of a strange fever and her memory has haunted the house

Mr Edrisi: Mrs Edrisi's late husband, opium addict

Ghobad: Mrs Edrisi's previous lover, joined the firing-squad band

Yuri Marenko: Well-known poet, Roxana's previous lover, much like Vladimir Mayokovski  

Rana:Vahhab's mum who has left them


4/ Fire Centre Panel

Ghobad: Mrs Edrisi's previous lover, joined the firing-squad band

Soldiers

 

Note on the title: The title implicitly refers to prophet Idris and Shahab al-din Sohrawardi's theosophy who is the founder of Persian wisdom and illumination philosophy and a follower of prophet Idris, the title has also some significance in secret societies of mystics.

Influences:Apart from the influence of 19th century mode of fiction writing in the West, the book has taken a lot inspirations from narrative versification of Persian Classics in which a labyrinthine mode of story telling develops when a tale is told within another tale, Season three is the peak of such a style.

 

(Provided by the translator)

 

contact:

rosa_jamali@yahoo.com

rosajamali@gmail.com

rosa.jamali@ut.ac.ir



 این وبسایت به ترجمه ی رمان " خانه ی ادریسی ها" اثر مشهور " غزاله علیزاده " به زبان انگلیسی اختصاص دارد؛ نقل به مطالب وبسایت با حفظ نام مترجم "رُزا جمالی "آزاد است

 
 
 

 

 

 

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