Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus

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by Amin Maalouf
     
 

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"I, Hasan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road,

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Overview

"I, Hasan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road, my country is the caravan, my life the most unexpected of voyages." Thus wrote Leo Africanus, in his fortieth year, in this imaginary autobiography of the famous geographer, adventurer, and scholar Hasan al-Wazzan, who was born in Granada in 1488. His family fled the Inquisition and took him to the city of Fez, in North Africa. Hasan became an itinerant merchant, and made many journeys to the East, journeys rich in adventure and observation. He was captured by a Sicilian pirate and taken back to Rome as a gift to Pope Leo X, who baptized him Johannes Leo. While in Rome, he wrote the first trilingual dictionary (Latin, Arabic and Hebrew), as well as his celebrated Description of Africa, for which he is still remembered as Leo Africanus.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Leo Africanus is a beautiful book of tales about people who are forced to accept choices made for them by someone else...It relates, poetically at times and often imaginatively, the story of those who did not make it to the New World.
BBC World Service
Utterly fascinating.
Thomas Fleming
Absoutely facinating—an evocation of a lost world. Leo's travels among the Moslems, Christians and Jews in his time shed startling light on our present dilemmas.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Through the adventures of a wise, courageous traveler, this excellent historical novel limns Islamic culture at the time of Columbus. (July)
Library Journal
Written in the form of a memoir, this historical novel explores the meeting of two worlds Islam and Christendom through the adventures of real-life Arab traveler and geographer Hassan al-Wazzan. Born in Spain just as the Moors were expelled in 1492, Hassan grows up in North Africa and as a young man crosses the Sahara to Timbuctu, eventually reaching Cairo on the eve of its conquest by the Ottomans. In the last of his sojourns recounted by Maalouf, Hassan arrives in the Rome of Pope Leo X, who christens him Leo Africanus. Chronicling the loves and adventures of his wandering protagonist, the author deftly weaves into Hassan's account a score of the traveler's more famous contemporaries, including Columbus, the Medicis, Martin Luther, and Suleiman the Magnificent. Enjoyable reading for general readers. L.M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
New York Times Book Review
Leo Africanus is a beautiful book of tales about people who are forced to accept choices made for them by someone else...It relates, poetically at times and often imaginatively, the story of those who did not make it to the New World.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781561310227
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
03/28/1998
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
225,885
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Thomas Fleming
Absolutely fascinating—an evocation of a lost world. Leo's travels among Muslims, Christians, and Jews in his time shed startling light on our present dilemmas.
—(Thomas Fleming)

Meet the Author

Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese writer, was editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique. He is the author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and several novels.

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