Mathias Énard

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Dr. Mena Mark Hanna

Curator & Introduction

In English with simultaneous German translation


The character of the saki, the cupbearer, is one of the most important of both classical Persian poetry and the West-östlicher Divan. He gives his name to one of its chapters, “The Book of the Cupbearer,” which is the only chapter that Goethe’s Divan shares with its admired model, Hafiz’s.
After an historical description of the cupbearer as a fictional character in lyrical poetry from both East and West, and a short discussion of the sakinamé as a genre in Persian literature, we will explore the persona of the cupbearer in both Goethe’s and Hafiz’s Divans: who is the saki? Or who is she? Where does he/she come from? What drinks does he serve and when? Does the cupbearer participate in the feast? Is he a musician? A singer, maybe? And, more important: what kind of ebriety does he provide? Is the cupbearer an erotic or mystical character? “Come cupbearer, rise and serve us the wine!”

About Mathias Énard

Mathias Énard, born 1972, is the author of Compass (winner of the Prix Goncourt, the Leipzig Prize, and the Premio von Rezzori, and shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize), Zone, and Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants, as well as a translator from Persian and Arabic. His own books have been translated into more than 25 languages. After living in the Middle East for ten years, he now resides in Barcelona, were he taught Arabic at the University. Mathias Énard was a guest of the DAAD’s Berliner Künstlerprogramm in 2013. He writes a weekly chronicle about books in Le Monde newspaper in Paris.

Also on that day

Complementing the festival program, works by visual artist and activist Bahia Shehab will be on display in an exhibition. Admission to all events except the concert is free, numbered tickets are required.

Promoter & ticket sales

Pierre Boulez Saal | Französische Straße 33 D, Berlin, Germany