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Metin Arditi, UNESCO Special Envoy, Gives Talk On the Paradox of Writing Fiction

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YEREVAN, Armenia – The American University of Armenia (AUA) Office of the President hosted Mr. Metin Arditi, founder of the Arditi Foundation for Intercultural Dialogue on November 4. Mr. Arditi, who in 2014 was appointed UNESCO Special Envoy, discussed the task and role of fiction writers around the world.

Arditi holds degrees in physics and nuclear engineering, as well as an MBA. He has taught creative writing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Arditi believes that the fundamental process of writing fiction requires the author to put himself or herself in the shoes of all his characters, regardless of whether he or she would otherwise like or dislike them, praise them, or judge them. That is the reader’s task. During the writing process, the author must put himself or herself one step above reality, as if he/she were detached from the real world which he/she must precisely describe. When Gustave Flaubert, one of the greatest novelists of French Literature, says, “Madame Bovary, c’est moi,” he means that he is, in fact, his most famous character, a lost woman. Flaubert’s statement sums up the task of all fiction writers.

In his speech, Arditi explored questions that relate to Flaubert’s statement. How can a writer  achieve this most difficult goal of being his or her character? What are the difficulties to be overcome? What are the possible rewards of fiction writing, beyond the obvious (and far from certain) ones of fame and fortune?

Metin Arditi was born in Ankara, in a Jewish Sepharadic family, and left Turkey at the age of seven to study in Switzerland. He lives in Geneva, where he is very involved in the cultural and artistic life of the city.

In 1988, he created the Arditi Foundation, which awards fifteen annual prizes to graduates of the University of Geneva and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He is the founder of ” The Instruments of Peace Foundation “, which offers musical education to children of Palestine and Israel.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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