Shusha Guppy interviewed Lesley Blanch at her home in Garavan, before and after a delicious home-cooked lunch consumed in the shade of a fig tree in the garden. September 1988.
Shusha Guppy : It took some six years to write your next book, which you told me you consider your best: The Sabres of Paradise, the story of the Imam Shamyl. Your husband Romain Gary admired it greatly, and called it a masterpiece, didn’t he?
Lesley Blanch : Yes. Praise from him was praise indeed!
SG : It has a very rich texture and is beautifully written, and it was a great success everywhere – France, Germany, Russia . . .
LB : And I have just heard that a Daghestani man, an officer in the Soviet Army, has translated it into Daghestani language, which is interesting. Well, there had been nothing else on this splendid subject, except in Russia. I wrote it in Los Angeles in the late fifties. My husband was then the French Consul General there. I used to get up at three or four in the morning and write, and my research often took me away, sometimes to Turkey and the Caucasus. But when I finished it there seemed to be something missing, a gap, and I decided I must go back to Istanbul, where Shamyl had lived briefly in exile after his defeat. My husband thought I was mad, and discouraged me. We always had to give a huge party on July 14th for the French citizens of Los Angeles – there were about eleven thousand of them there. Hundreds used to come to this annual affair. It kept me busy twenty-four hours, but I left the next day. I had a feeling that I had to go and find Shamyl’s family.Continue reading “Shusha Guppy interviews Lesley Blanch (1991) | part 2”