Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Fiqir Iske Meqabir (Love Unto the Grave)

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Fiqir Iske Meqabir (Love Unto the Grave)

Article excerpt

Fiqir Iske Meqabir (Love unto the Grave). By Haddis Alemayyehu. [1965] Translated into English by David Appleyard. Trenton, N.J.: The Red Sea Press, 2004. Pp. 552.

Realistic time-period fiction can often be of great help to the historian, especially when he encounters a dearth or paucity of other source materials. This is certainly true for Ethiopia, "the hidden kingdom." The work under review, written in the late 1940s but published only in 1965 (and since then in more than half-a-dozen reprints) marks a milestone in Amharic fiction as the first mature Ethiopian novel and the work that presaged and foretold the revolution that toppled the regime of Haile Sellassie. Often based on personal life experiences, the novel vividly portrays the feudal system of traditional Abyssinia in the period 1887-1935, roughly from the establishment of modern Ethiopia and her new capital Addis Ababa under Menelik I to the Italian interlude, in the area of (Eastern) Gojjam Province. It stresses in particular the system's inherent flaws and injustices, particularly through the unforgettable character of the crusty aristocratic landowner Fîtawrarî Meshesha who under no circumstances will allow his daughter Seble Wengêl to marry beneath her God-sanctioned social class and certainly not to her beloved commoner church-teacher Bezzabbih. In true Shakespearean, Romeo and Juliet fashion, the two lovers try to elope but tragically die (whence the book's title), as do Fîtawrarî Meshesha and his wife (and Bezzabbih's parents to boot). That is, "All are punished," to use the Royal Bard's decree. (Indeed, Romeo and Juliet was translated into Amharic in the 1930s by the grand old man of Amharic drama and poetry, Kebbede Mikael; along with Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, and Julius Caesar in Amharic, it has remained popular with Ethiopian theater-goers to this day. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.