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Interview with Christopher de Bellaigue

HarperCollins, New York (2005)

HarperCollins, New York (2005)

You alluded to this when you spoke earlier but you sense also in this a certain kind of "integrity." What do you mean by that?

Well, what does "integrity" mean? It means being true to your ideals. Now your ideals may be twisted or unattractive but being true to ideals is something that is considered to be a quality. So within that context one can say that there is an integrity to this. But in the same sentence, I also spoke about, I think it was a "homicidal vileness" to the same thing there. The two things are mixed in the same sort of hue.

A recent review in the New York Times suggests that you write with an "imperial confidence" of Iran. How would you respond to that claim?

I don't think he meant that I was being - well, I don't know, you would have to ask the reviewer what he meant by that. But I took it as a compliment!

You can't be serious!

He was applying the word "imperial" to something that's got nothing to do with imperialism. And "confidence" isn't something that…

…Is the exclusive purview of imperial powers?


But you can say, you might say that it's over-determined - since you are, of course, English…

Yes, yes, you can say that. You can say that someone speaks with all the persuasiveness of an advertising executive without them actually being an advertising executive. With all the other unattractive facets that you might attribute to advertising executives…