This year, in the Singapore Writer’s festival, one of the books launched is a translation of Isa Kamari’s Kiswah, a novel which was created with two more in 2002 — Intercession and The Tower. While these novels focus on spiritual evolution by evolving religious lore, in two of them at least the protagonist is an architect.
So, what does architecture have in common with literature?
Russian author Ayn Rand found some answers in The Fountainhead (1943), where the protagonist, architect Howard Roarke moves towards her theory of Objectivism, a theory which the author herself defined as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
Do Kamari’s books, though studied in a religious light by Henry Aveling of Monash University, also subscribe to Objectivism?
Perhaps such answers will be sought in future by students of an evolving subject which links architecture and literature in the University of Pennsylvania.
“What I hope the course [will do] is help students reacquaint themselves with the world in which they live by looking at it in different ways and discovering in it different content that there is to be grasped, and only needs to be looked for with eyes wide open,” said the professor David Leatherbarrow, who is offering “Topographical Stories: Architecture, Literature, and Cities”.
That is pretty much what Howard Roarke and Kamari’s hero, Ilham, seem to do!
Read more about the course in this article from the Daily Pennsylvanian.
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