By Vincent Barletta
Notwithstanding Alexander the nice lived greater than seventeen centuries prior to the onset of Iberian enlargement into Muslim Africa and Asia, he loomed huge within the literature of overdue medieval and early smooth Portugal and Spain. Exploring little-studied chronicles, chivalric romances, novels, travelogues, and crypto-Muslim texts, Vincent Barletta indicates that the tale of Alexander not just sowed the seeds of Iberian empire yet foreshadowed the decline of Portuguese and Spanish effect within the centuries to return. demise in Babylon depicts Alexander as a posh image of Western domination, immortality, dissolution, heroism, villainy, and dying. yet Barletta additionally indicates that texts ostensibly celebrating the conqueror have been haunted via failure. reading literary and historic works in Aljamiado, Castilian, Catalan, Greek, Latin, and Portuguese, demise in Babylon develops a view of empire and modernity trained by means of the moral metaphysics of French phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas. a singular contribution to the literature of empire construction, demise in Babylon presents a body for the deep mortal anxiousness that has infused and given form to the unfold of imperial Europe from its very starting.
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Extra resources for Death in Babylon: Alexander the Great and Iberian Empire in the Muslim Orient
As Justin puts it, Alexander’s power over death—a current that also runs through the rich corpus of legendary material revolving around death and the other 23 Alexander—is at once the thing of dreams and visions and a demonstrable, empirical fact. The authors of the early Iberian expansion into Asia and Africa (mostly, but not exclusively, chroniclers and poets), self-conscious heirs to both the classical and medieval tradition and the burden of “oriental” empire, likewise understood Alexander to be a dangerous weapon that always threatened to cut both ways.
It is in fact no stretch to argue that due to these and other issues—Alexander’s perceived “descent” into oriental mores and drunken paranoia (the two were correlates, at least from the Greek and Roman perspective) figure prominently—Greek and Latin accounts of Alexander tend to present the Macedonian king as much as a cautionary tale as a powerful (or great) figure to be emulated. It perhaps also comes as no surprise that in both this literature and that of early Iberian expansion into Muslim Africa and Asia, Alexander ends up taking the indexical relation between empire and death to new and even more disturbing depths.
The ambassador compares Tirant’s body to that of Saint Sebastian after his “first” martyrdom, and so simultaneously frames Tirant as a naked object of aesthetic judgment (and interpretation) while linking him to the theme of violent death. , as a body to be perceived and mortal) in settings of imperial contact and imagination. At the end of Martorell’s novel Tirant does in fact die, much like Alexander the Great, from an illness that takes him by surprise. Tirant’s death also precedes a one-hundred-year period of peace and prosperity in Constantinople, a political situation that contrasts starkly with political realties affecting the Crown of Aragon at the time that Martorell composed his novel.