LILITH by Reza Baraheni
140 x 215mm, 104 pages, black and white printing, perfect bound, softcover, 2023
Edited by Dominic J. Jaeckle
‘I think therefore I am other…’ In Reza Baraheni’s Lilith, the mythological demon of the night gives a youthfully irreverent, viscerally wise voice to the lucidity of the rebel. Rather than renouncing freedom, Lilith is outcast for her outspokenness and sensuality—sequestered to a place wherein freedom is crucially situated in the power and beauty of language, and where that language is seated in stark opposition with the oppressive forms of authority that seek to make it mute.
Lilith can be seen as an allegorical take on the condition of the poet in exile. Like the banned and persecuted author, the demon refuses to yield to force and is, resultantly, a pariah. Her body becomes the dumping ground of all power-driven fantasies, and the figure of the exile is invested with the projected fears and compulsions of the dominant society. But it is the creative drive of language that permeates these pages.
A deeply lyrical and irreducibly subversive work, over a little less than a hundred pages Lilith investigates the limits of a linguistic freedom via encounters between Lilith and a cast of fabled figures, and the vulnerable courage of the poet is set against avatars of patriarchal oppression and authoritarian rule alike via the demon’s dance with language. In Lilith, it is language that disrupts ordinary chronology; language that allows for the shade of a dream life to dint the light of day; harking back to an envisaging of poetry as music, as ritual. This is not language as an evocation of some distant golden age, but as celebration.
An experiment in word alchemy; a dance of grace and danger on the faultline of prose and song; Lilith explores the reality-making function of language to pinpoint the antagonistic faculty and political felicities of poetry itself.
In 2006, Lilith was adapted for the theatre and produced in France and Geneva by Thierry Bedard (under the title Exilith). Bedard has also previously presented Reza Baraheni’s play Enfer to great acclaim at the Avignon International Festival in 2004. This Tenement text is a translation of Clément Marzieh’s brilliant French version (Fayard, 2007). No edition of Lilith, as far as is known, seems ever to have been published in Persian and, indeed, the original manuscript appears to have been lost. The English translators of Lilith have chosen to remain anonymous.