Synopsis

H.I.M.

(His Imperial Majesty)

Intro. AUTHOR'S CONFESSIONS: LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER
Definition of the genre -- life of one man's soul and family. Present and future impact of Haile Sellassie on our family, Ethiopia and history. Did he fail in his mission to maintain the three thousand years of the Solomonic dynasty? Was his calling to be a part of his descendants' destiny? Life-after-death could go beyond one man’s legacy and my answers why I wrote the book and why the story was told in reverse chronologal order. Am I a narrator or a subject of the story?

Prologue. NEAR PRESENT: ANTI-MARX
What are the relations between man and time? Re-examination of the concept of immortal soul; premodern, modern and postmodern views. The shadows of intellectual ancestors dominate our lives. Learning how to travel to the past starts with lessons of arriving into the present.

PART I. JAH (GOD)

How was a mortal man elevated to a status of living God? Did we miss the Second Coming and the End of the World? How can believers think that Ras Tafari was the black Christ? This is a non-rasta look at the Rastafarian philosophy. They believe that they live AFTER THE FUTURE. Does a soul have race? "Ethiopians" -- all people of the world, according to Rasta.

Chapter One. 1995: RETURN TO NOWHERE (HOME)
Family trip to Addis Ababa. Do national cultures die? What happened in 1991, when the Dergue regime was overthrown? What about the future in Ethiopia for Haile Sellassie's descendants? Does the blood (Dem) still have its powers?

Chapter Two. 1986: SONGS OF REDEMPTION (I & I)
Birth of our son named Tafari and the beginning of the end for communism (Gorbachev became the Soviet Union Communist Party’s Secretary General). What was the communist era for? Is there another answer for collective existence? What is this transpersonal psychology? Trinity (in Amharic -- Sellassie) as Father, Son and Spirit.

Chapter Three. 1984: SONGS OF STARVATION (WE ARE THE WORLD)
The Great Famine in Ethiopia and birth of our daughter. It was the year of Brezhnev’s death and Reagan’s re-election, the communist wave was losing its powers. What were those ten fast years of socialism for Ethiopia?

PART II. JANHOY (KING)

Emperor was King of Kings, Sellassie v. Tafari. Orthodox Christianity on Man-Adam as king, prophet and priest. Three tasks of a man who is a monarch. How did he understand them and what did he do in his almost fifty years of being the absolute ruler of Ethiopia?

Chapter Four. 1975: AFTER THE END (DEATH)
Last year and last days of Haile Sellassie. Who died in the palace under arrest? What was this last year of his life for? He wasn’t King of Kings anymore; he was a man, an old man, a prisoner. And Tafari died.

Chapter Five. 1974: REVOLT AND REVOLUTION (PRIEST)
He didn't fight this time and accepted revolution and the end of his reign as God's will. He was the government. Without him the power was there for anybody to take. The army, his favorite child, deposed the emperor.

Chapter Six. 1960: LOST SONS (FATHER)
The story of the coup when the new generation, which he educated for the new Ethiopia, took power for one week. The young weren't with him, including his own son, the Crown Prince. The future of the country was lost in three days of the Imperial Guards’ revolt. From now on the young minds of the country weren’t with him.

Chapter Seven. 1935: GOOD OF EVIL (PROPHET)
Italian war, defeat and exile. King without kingdom. International recognition. League of Nations and bitter knowledge of his idols, the nations of the West. The world didn’t know that World War II is tomorrow.

Chapter Eight. 1930: EMPEROR (TRINITY)
Coronation and how he achieved it. How full and unlimited are the powers of the monarch? What was the price to be paid? Death of Empress Zewditu. His reforms and first constitution.

PART III. RAS TAFARI (MAN)

There is a man behind the king. Who was this man Tafari? How does a man become a prince (Ras)? He believed in his destiny and his only free choice was to follow it.

Chapter Nine. 1917: REGENT (WILL)
Ras (prince) Tafari governs, but he is not yet a ruler of the country. Man's lessons in politics, diplomacy and intrigues. World War One in Europe saved Ethiopia from colonization and gave him time to gain power in the capital.

Chapter Ten. 1892: THE BIRTH OF PRINCE (BIRTH)
The beginning of his mortal life. His youth and rise of the Black Empire. Two men before him: Ras Makonnen, his father, and Emperor Menelik. Country without a ruler; Yasu becomes the emperor and Ras Tafari is sent away to the province. Was it the end of his dreams?

Chapter Eleven. 1891: BEFORE THE PAST (CONCEPTION)
How his soul came into material being. Abyssinian reality to face. Africa was entering world history again and a king was needed to save Ethiopia from the powers of the North.

Chapter Twelve. LAST MAN: BEFORE LIFE (SOUL)
Thousands of years of waiting for birth, the soul's learning its task. Centuries of Ethiopian history as a message to the unborn.

Epilogue. ANATOLY TRAVELS
Narrator returns from the African universe to American reality. Perhaps an immediate family is dead because we have to become one global family.

Appendix:

Bibliography
Glossary
Photos
Family Tree
(HIM) chronology
Notes

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NOTES:

The dates of the chronology are connected with history and family events, but each chapter has its topical target (in parentheses). It's a personal narrative where Haile Sellassie's biography is interlocked with the writer's autobiographical events. We take facts for granted; I tried to write about not what took place but why.

Anatoly's BIO

At the age of 25, I became the youngest member of the Soviet Union Writers Guild. I graduated from Moscow Institute of Cinematography, and had half a dozen scripts in production; none of them made it to the screen. After receiving two national awards for plays, I defected to Italy in 1980, as the American Embassy put it “in search of artistic freedom.”
I met my wife twice: first in Vermont where I was directing for the Norwich Russian Summer School and then at NYU, where I was teaching for the Slavic Department. We got married in Jerusalem in 1984. Our daughter, Alexandra, was born in New York, and our son, Alexey-Tafari, in Vermont in 1986. This was during the year of the “We are the World” campaign. In fact, Esther was active in support of this cause, she became a spokesperson for a relief fund to aid victims of drought in Ethiopia, and raised money in New York and New Jersey.
After three years teaching theatre in Virginia, we moved to Fairbanks; soon after our arrival, I became head of the Department of Theatre at the University of Alaska. In 1992 I returned to Russia as a director of the Russian American Theatre Project. I was awarded a Fulbright, and the whole family spent two years in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In 1995, during my sabbatical, we went to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. That marks the end of our travels in search of the past.
We came back to Fairbanks where Esther works as a manager of the biggest Farmers Market in Alaska. She is also a graduate student of anthropology UAF. I teach, direct and write. “HIM” is one of my non-fiction projects.

MARKET

I placed several chapters of the H.I.M. manuscript on our Haile Sellassie Family Website to see the reaction and demographics of readers. To my surprise, Rastafarians from around the world happened to be the most active visitors. There are surfers who come from the Black American webrings; this was expected since in the past, Esther and I have seen a strong interest during our numerous presentations for Black History Month. I haven’t checked out the academic market yet, but we constantly receive messages from kids doing their school projects. In addition, there are people I can’t categorize clearly, with interests in Ethiopia, Africa and history in general.
Marketing surprises: There is very little response from the Ethiopian diaspora (over a million), nor areas such as genealogical, inter-racial, or Royal inquiries.
The size of the market is an unanswered question for me. The Website, without much promotion, continues to attract a steady flow of hits. In its third month of existence, it has had over two thousand visitors. They are all coming after searching on the Net for “Haile Sellassie” (the only way to find it). How many of them are readers, I don’t know, but I suspect some are, because they return and send emails.
Originally, I saw this book as something for the general market. After all, Haile Sellassie is one of the few major historical figures of this century. Nevertheless, the way I wrote the book makes it more a literary work; personal, and almost auto-biographical. (I didn’t have time to pass this project through writers on the Net, to see if the prose itself is an attraction for reading. The chapters from the book are the late addition to our website and I didn’t ask for comments on it specifically).
Here is the most difficult spot for me -- the genre. The tone and manner of the narrative is very much a part of the structure.

Notes on SYNOPSIS

According to Ethiopian stories, the Solomonic dynasty of Haile Sellassie's bloodline has three thousand years of history. I start the story of his life in the year 1995 when we came back to Addis Ababa and then go back through the century as an archeologist going through the layers of time. I thought that the drama of the end of the family extends itself into our lives, that is my family. Haile Sellassie saw his own life as a mission to maintain and secure continuity. His birth was God’s providence, an offering of a man-king to a country at a time of tribulation, someone who must save the past from disappearing. The chapters are the moments of crisis, when one wrong decision could lead to the end of the sacred line.
All that makes the book into “speculative” non-fiction with a lot of references to theology and philosophy. This methodology allows for non-conventional inclusion of Christian and pagan beliefs about man’s life as only a fragment of his soul’s existence. I myself struggle with this structure of the narrative, but I wrote the book for the purpose of exploring the unknown to my territory.

PS. The table of contents has a few hyper-links to chapters posted on the web. The rest of the website is my research materials for “HIM” and the earlier fiction project “DEM” (a novel whose title means "Blood"). [One small excerpt from DEM in on page 13: Fiction; I decided to put away the novel till I finish HIM]

Also, I used bits and pieces from the book to accompany the History Pages of the Website with the photos of the family. I thought that some of the photo archive could be part of the book as an appendix: along with a short glossary of Amharic words used, the latest genealogy tree (the Emperor’s present descendants) and plain chronology.

PPS. The art work and legends which are found on several of my web pages are part of another (future) project about Ethiopian iconography, not HIM.

Perhaps this manuscript isn’t an easy product to market and sell, but I saw my task in writing the book so that it will be around and read 50 years from now. I am aware that I sacrifice the immediacy and benefits of the current market, but I really wish to leave my children with the book for their children. Although Esther’s brother is the heir to the throne, I don’t see us as part of the political life of Ethiopia, only the cultural. After my experience in Russia, I avoid any commercial writing so I can write my (serious) books. I know that I have to wait for the right editor, agent, publisher. One of the strongest personal reasons why I seek publishing of HIM is because our children are old enough to read the book. I hope you understand my motivations, which I thought I should express right away. ffaga@uaf.edu

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