Morocco: Burgess and the pederasts

Burgess writes in the novel Enderby Outside:

Pashas and the Beni-Ouarain and camels. Mulai Hafid and Abd-el-Kadir. The light-coloured Sherifians, who claim descent from the Prophet. Palmetto and sandarach and argan and tizra. Leopards here, bears, hyenas and wild pigs. Bustard, partridge and waterfowl. Dromedaries and dashing Barbary horses.

Tangiers, Burgess points out,

once belonged to the British — part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, Portuguese queen of a merry monarch. A pleasant enough town, no longer very distinguished, with some deplorable specimens of architecture. The beach is deserted. This is not the tourist season and, besides, it is the hour of the siesta. The beach cafés are garish, the paint peeling on many, but some of their names are rather charming. The Winston Churchill, the Sun Trap, the Cuppa, the Well Come.

Those Hebrew letters

mean kosher. It is three consonants, the Semitic languages not greatly favouring the alphabetisation of vowels. Arabic too is a Semitic language and is similarly vowel-shy. Why then do not the Jews and Arabs, aware of a common origin in speech and alphabetic method as well as genes, taboos and mythology, get on better together? There you have the eternal mystery of brotherhood. As Blake might have said, Let me hate him, or let me be his brother.

In Tangiers, Burgess explains,

you have expatriates of Northern stock, water to the oil of the Moors and Berbers and Spaniards. Many of them have fled their native lands to escape the rigour of the law. Yes, alas, crimes. Expropriation of funds, common theft, sexual inversion. The term means nothing more than philoprogenitive urges deflected into channels that possess no generative significance.

And among the exiles from the North

are artists, musicians, writers. They have sinned, but they have talent. Desperately they exercise their talent here, dreaming of bitter ale and meadowsweet but cut off for ever, yes for ever, from the Piccadilly flyover and the Hyde Park State Museum and the Communal Beerhall on Hammersmith Broadway. Those are the British. The Americans weep too nightly into their highballs for the happy shopping evenings in the Dupermarket, the drive-in colour stereovideo, the nuclear throb of the fully automated roadglobe. But they practise their arts. It is writers mostly. Up that hill lives a man who has already produced 25 volumes of autobiography: he tears at each instant of his pre-exilic past as though it were a prawn. Another man, on the Calle Larache, eats into his unconscious heart and mounts the regurgitated fragments on fragments of old newspaper. Another man again writes sneering satire, in sub-Popean couplets, on an England already dead. They are small artists, all.

There is in the town

a rue Beethoven, also an avenida Leonardo da Vinci, a plaza de Sade. But no artist here will have a square or thoroughfare named for him. They are nothing. And yet think what, on three sides, surrounds them, though the fierce Atlantic will give a right orchestration to the muscularity of what, to the sun’s own surprise, has sprung out of sunbaked Africa and Iberia. The glory of the Lusiads and the stoic bravery and heartbreak of the Cid, and the myth of Juan and the chronicle of the gaunter Don on the gaunt horse. Clash of guitars up there and the drum-roll of hammering heels in the dance, and down there the fever of native timpani. And, east, the tales told to the cruel Sultan Shahriyar, and the delicate verse-traceries of Omar this and Abdul that and Sayid the other thing.

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