Having sensed, perhaps, that I am loving the Hungarian bend of my Silk Route Reading Project, a bookseller inserted this surprise as a thoughtful gift along with my book-mail.
With a protagonist named after a character from The Thousand and One Nights, one can immediately sense the literary flavors that meet and fuse along these cultural routes.
Readers would be dissatisfied if they treated this like a novel, however. Although often related, the brief chapters should be read as a collection of stories, each one capable of standing on its own like any story from a Chekhov anthology.
These “adventures” are primarily amorous, and I would have easily dropped this book had I overlooked the sad irony masked behind the comic caprice.
Sindbad speaks beyond the grave, literally. More often than not, he is the ghost of a womanizer who committed suicide and returns to visit the women with whom he has had affairs, whether in his memories or through his phantasmic imaginings. Some of these women, victims of his philandering ways, some seductresses themselves.
“Bearing all this in mind it is understandable that the unhappy young man should have taken his own life. His desires were incapable of fulfillment. It was of no consolation to him that one hundred and seven women had reciprocated his love.”
But having died, Sindbad is described to have grown wise in death. On one occasion, he even laments how the dead see no change in the living.
Even so, it is too late to start again.
“Why can’t you find peace in the other world?” one woman asks Sindbad.
It would seem that peace and love are things you can strive for only in the world of the living.