Nonino International Prize 1999


The true name of Adonis, considered the greatest living Arab poet, is Ali Ahmad Said Esber. Born in 1930 at Qassalin, a Syrian village, later he moved to Beirut and since the Eighties he has been living in France. The choice of the pen-name Greek name Adonis was made after reading the myth about the beautiful young man killed by a wild boar. The passage from a Muslim name to one without any relation with Islam becomes the symbol of a passage towards the universal, going out of an immovable tradition towards a greater freedom. In an interview of 1984 to “Le Monde”, Adonis declared that being modern means accepting to talk and that in the Arab world modernity reveals itself in the poets that are not afraid of listening to other cultures”. In Adonis there are the major themes of all great poetry: love and death, nature and the man, the divinity and the word. Among his works we mention: The Songs of Mihyar the Damascene, Stage and Mirrors, Mémoire du Vent, The book of migration and The book of Siege.
The prize will be delivered by V.S. Naipaul.