9I pursued her for three years. Every day the string of the bow becomes more taut. It was with air that my water skins were distended; my cravens were thirsty, and the mirage simmered before me in the wilderness of longing; the arrow’s target had been fixed and it was inevitable the tragedy would take place. So I married her. My bedroom became a theatre of war; my bed a patch of hell. When I grasped her it was like grasping at clouds, like bedding a shooting star, like mounting the back of a Prussian military march. That bitter smile was continually in her mouth. I would stay awake all night warring with bow and sword and spear and arrows, and in the morning I would see the smile unchanged and would know once again that I had lost the combat. It was as though I were a slave Shahrayar you buy in the market for a dinar encountering a Scheherazade begging amidst the rubble of a city destroyed by plaque. By day I lived with the theories of Keynes and Tawny and at night I resumed the war with bow and sword and spear and arrows.
He, on the one hand, does not tolerate this relationship, which hurts his dignity, and on the other hand is insistent on revenge.
even there, in his tranquil village, he triggers conflict. He tries to urbanise the village by introducing farming technology and forming cooperative societies. Like any farmer in the village, he leads an ordinary life, digs the ground with his feet in the mud, yet his head carries the most sophisticated cultures of the world.
On the walls were large mirrors, so that when I slept with a woman it was as if I slept with a whole harem simultaneously.
Whatever physical relationship they sustain after that seems sporadic and tumultuous, more a form of combat between deadly enemies than an expression of affection or form of mutual pleasure. Jean is reckless and clearly self-destructive, and she seems to need to destroy Mustafa at the same time: “Come with me. Come with me. Don’t let me go alone” (136), she implores with her dying breath. For his part, Mustafa neither understands why he feels trapped and helpless, nor is able to stop himself from pursuing a relationship which he knows can only bring suffering and destruction: there was nothing I could do. Having been a hunter, I had become the quarry . . . I no longer saw or was conscious of anything but this catastrophe, in the shape of a woman, that fate had decreed for me. She was my destiny and in her lay my destruction . . . How often have I asked myself what it was that bound me to her! Why didn’t I leave her and escape? But I knew there was nothing I could do about it and that the tragedy had to happen. Jean repudiates Sa’eed’s exoticism, and
in so doing, rescripts him as powerless, subservient, and compliant. She does this by violently emasculating him, turning him into a powerless and sexually impotent cuckold. The scene in which she shows up naked and unannounced in Sa’eed’s Oriental boudoir is one such example of her efforts to destroy the power that Sa’eed derives from his exotic male sexuality. Once in the apartment, she taunts Sa’eed with the promise of sex, on the condition...