Sanje Publishing

by Vladimir Bartol

  • original title: Alamut
  • novel
  • translated by Michael Biggins
  • 440 pages
  • first published in 1938, present edition published in 2001
  • no 1 bestseller - over 55,000 copies sold in Slovenia alone
  • translated into over 30 languages worldwide, including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Croatian, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and Persian
  • recently sold to: France (Libella), Turkey (Koridor), Macedonia (Matica Makedonska), Italy (Castelvecchi), Lithuania (Kitos knygos), Indonesia (Zaytuna Ufuk Abadi), Bulgaria (Paradox)

The best selling Slovenian novel ever, Alamut is a book about political and historical considerations of fanaticism as well as a gripping adventure story based on the life and legend of the original “assassin” and world’s first political terrorist, 11th century Ismaili leader Hasan ibn Sabbah. An oriental tapestry, rich with detail of the lives and rites of a lost world, Alamut is ultimately a reflection on all forms of despotism. In magnificent prose reminiscent of Flaubert’s Salammbô, Vladimir Bartol – an author and philosopher interested in the history of religions, especially Islam – unveils the secret inner workings of (Islamic) fundamentalism and terrorism as well as developing existentialist themes of freedom, power and the absurd. Literary historians regard Alamut as an encyclopaedia of philosophy, politics, psychoanalysis, and scientific ideas, taking the form of an exotically decorated novel, posing questions on the boundary between truth and fiction. But in a world marked by 11/9, Alamut, exploring how forms of violence in history prefigure those of our own time, has also gained a more immediate significance.

Sample English translation is available in the attachement; full translation is available on request.

Sample translation

I had a feeling I was writing simultaneously for the public who was going to live 50 years later ... Quarter to 6 a.m. Finished Alamut. Pleased. These final days I spent trembling in fear that someone might steal it from me, that a fire might start, or that something else might happen. Towards the end I fancied that someone might even kill me or that I might have an accident. In general Alamut was completed, yet it was not until I put down the last letter that I truly felt at ease. Let someone kill me - in Alamut, I am going to be immortal.
(from Vladimir Bartol’s diary)

If Osama bin Laden did not exist, Vladimir Bartol would have invented him. (L’Express)

You cannot read Alamut like an ordinary book. It is an adventure story from 1938 which transforms itself … into a nightmare novel of the new century. (Olivier Maison, Journal de la Culture)

Alamut is … a finely wrought, undiscovered minor masterpiece that offers … a wealth of meticulously planned and executed detail and broad potential for symbolic, intertextual and philosophical inter-pretation.” (Michael Biggins, Afterword to the English translation)

Like Borges, [Bartol] raises questions but offers few answers … and will leave you with an inexhaustible restlessness and uncertainty. (Ricardo Arturo Rios Torres, La Prensa)