“Moha le fou, Moha le sage” by Tahar Ben Jelloun

This article is also available in: Italiano

Tahar Ben Jelloun’s book takes us to a Morocco suspended in time, in which only a madman is able to speak, but in a short time he becomes a danger to the police. Even under torture, however, Moha will resort to the memory of his past to suffer less agony, thus allowing the author to tell his country in a text between prose and poetry.

Moha le fou, Moha le sage

A sweet but invincible Mediterranean goblin can say with words that have not yet suffered the wear and tear of commonplaces, the slogans shouted at the megaphone, the revolt against colonization, and the subtle fury against any type of alienating violence, which goes from the confiscation of bodies and opinions, torn from a secular civilization for a “wild” acculturation called progressive. Moha the fool, Moha the wise, the protagonist of this rapid novel by Tahar Ben Jelloun lives in a language always on the threshold of singing, yet lashing like a pamphlet, in the word that maintains the pressing rhythm of a requiem tense to the spasm; he talks to himself, remembers, prophesies, is moved, outraged. A whole crowd passes and changes around him – in intense and short chapters like gusts of wind – and his interlocutors are indifferently marginal or seers like him, and also his class opponents.

Only the insane are allowed to speak

Tahar Ben Jelloun‘s book is a wide-ranging reflection on Morocco and its identity, still deeply linked to its past today. The Maghreb of the book is suspended in time, showing the whole country through characters who tell their souls. Only a madman, however, could take the courage to tell the truth, and it is precisely to him that the author entrusts his flow of thoughts.

Ben Jelloun
Arab leaders tell a story, Horace Vernet

Thanks to his condition, in fact, Moha will be able to better narrate the last memoirs of Ahmed Rashid, a man just killed in prison by the police, adding to them his poetic vision. Not even pain will stop the flow of thoughts, indeed sharpening the memory and allowing the reader an even more complete view of this magical country.

Between prophet and crowd

The work is very particular also for another aspect, that is the identity of the protagonist. In fact, throughout the novel the connections between Moha and the figure of the prophet Muhammad are very evident, immediately putting the doubt that it could be the saint par excellence. Even the names of the characters recall elements of his life and / or other religious figures at his level, making the atmosphere even more dreamlike and prophetic.

Ben Jelloun

A very interesting book if you are looking for “the soul of Morocco” or if you are already lovers of Ben Jelloun’s style, the work is very beautiful but if you give it the right time. Read during the trip to Marrakech, a beautiful accompaniment.

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