"Ports of Call" by Amin Maalouf

Essay by mohdmanutdHigh School, 12th gradeF, July 2006

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The art of storytelling is what breaks the silence of an individual or a collective experience as we attempt to bring order and understanding to the constant flux of life. Stories are by their very nature cathartic as they emotionally and intellectually attempt to release us from the potential paralysis of the past. This idea is explored in the novel "Ports of Call" by Amin Maalouf as Ossyane Ketabdar's narrative deconstructs both his public persona as a member of resistance during World War 2, his rebellion against the future is father wanted for him and his relationship with Clara. The storytelling that emerges is a kind of figurative translations that uses the literary device of metaphor for life as a refracted journey to create order out of the general imprecision of human experience.

Firstly the narrator's prologue to Maalouf's text immediately engages the reader in a discourse on the nature of storytelling "did he lie to me sometime? I don't know" P.

3. This shows that it is not the factual content of the story that immediately engages the responder, but it is the way we tell stories, refract their meaning to an audience and make connections with their human conditions that affect an audience. The text does not only contextualise the story of Ossyane but also it is the anonymous narrator's story whose initial hyperbolic abstract image of Ossyane as a "victorious God" is deconstructed by his meeting with the real Ossyane and the narrative that emerges over three days. This is illustrated in the episodic sections that create moments of climactic tension, but it is also informed by a story within a story as Ossyane's narrative is mediated by the anonymous narrator "..most of the time he dictated his story." P.51. This gives the storytelling an engaging...