The Queen of Sheba was a beautiful, intelligent and powerful black-skinned woman who one day, hearing King Solomon’s head, decided to embark on a frenzy from Yemen, in the south-west of the Arabian Peninsula, to the kingdom of Israel. .
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The sovereign arrived laden with spices, gold and precious stones. He was very well received by the monarch of Semitic origin. At the meeting of passion and knowledge, they fell in love and gave birth to a son named Menelik, which means son of the chief.
Unlike those empty times, full of algorithms, devoid of myths and legends, the Queen of Sheba was an important icon of the past and was quoted by the New Testament and the Koran. Similarly, in the 19th century, it exerted a valid influence on the writers Gérald de Nerval, Gustave Flaubert and André Malraux, who then traveled to the East in search of it in the midst of these “blue chasms and fountains of fire”, like the poet Artur Rimbaud commented on this Region that they also lived in these places.
As for the bad poet Rimbaud, he did not travel to the East in search of the queen, but, immersed in the depths of Arab civilization, he devoted himself to arms and black trade.
Nerval, the pursuer of impossible lovers, traveled the Arab world and his obsession with this woman was part of his mania which eventually led him to hang himself with a rope.
Flaubert describes her astride an elephant, protected by a red parasol with silver bells and a beaded corset.
The Queen of Sheba is not only the aristocratic woman that Flaubert described in the last century, but she represents all the women of the world.
For his part, Malraux crossed this desert of thirst and crime several times in his plane, not to meet her but, distinguished by his horrible profession of grave robber, he pursued his hidden domain.
Myths are eternal and allow us to survive in the midst of this technocratic and violent world. Today, three thousand years after the existence of this great woman, the Colombian writer Laura Restrepo surprises us with a novel about the Queen of Sheba. I mean “Song of the old lovers” (Manantial).
The narrator, who traveled to Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia between 2009 and 2014 as part of the MSF team, experienced this district first hand and had the opportunity to share with the thousands of displaced women that the guerrillas pour into this corner every day. of the planet
There was a big secret behind the writer’s humanitarian delirium. Like Nerval, Laura Restrepo also followed in the footsteps of the Queen of Sheba. And he found it!
The novel tells the story of Bos Mutas and Zaharta Bayda. The first, a cute writer who wants to write a career on Saba. The second, a traditional Somalian midwife who helps create life in the middle of the desert.
Laura disguises herself as a tender Mutas and, from her story, restores to us the figure of this fabulous woman who has captivated the world for centuries.
Laura Restrepo’s novel is disturbing: the Queen of Sheba is not only the aristocratic woman that Flaubert described in the last century, but also represents all the women of the world.
The Sovereign is a symbol that is found in the hearts of women whom the author has incompatible with the immensity of the road, he is in the minds of hungry women who travel for miles through the desert in search of bread, women displaced by the guerrillas and also among those who are prostituted and abused by men.
In Song of Former Lovers, the ancient myth unfolds across 396 spacious pages and is reborn in full force for today’s readers.
(Read here all the chronicles of Fabio Martínez in EL TIEMPO)