The Rule of Barbarism

Written by Abdellatif Laâbi | Translated by André Naffis-Sahely
The Rule of Barbarism
by Abdellatif Laâbi
Translated by André Naffis-Sahely
(Pirogue, 2012)

Finally available in English, Le Règne de barbarie by Abdellatif Laâbi is one of the most daring poetic visions of the second half of the twentieth century. First published in 1976 while Laâbi was serving an eight-year prison sentence (1972-1980) for 'crimes of opinion' against the Moroccan state, The Rule of Barbarism is a devastating flight through consciousness, acquainting the reader with the trials of a society caught between a colonial past and the tragic realities of a brutal dictatorship. Analysing the presence of 'barbarism' inherent in all of us, and yet deepening our capacity for compassion despite the allure of revenge, this stunning debut from a writer on the threshold of a groundbreaking career can be read as an epic of love, empathy, anger and despair – and is as resonant today as when composed nearly fifty years ago.

Excerpt:

monstrosities monstrosities
in the severity of the days of retribution
I see nothing but killers
this brotherhood of killers
that bends the bow
the target hurled
into the crime
hail barbarity of great famines
hail tribal flints
hail jungle of crudeness
something in me reawakens
once again the miracle of the body

—Abdellatif Laâbi
from 'Glory to Those Who Torture Us'

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