Essay on Leo Africanus Book Review

1320 Words Sep 18th, 2010 6 Pages
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Leo Africanus Book Review

Leo Africanus By, Amin Maalouf

In the book Leo Africanus it is a fictionalized biography of a real person, Hasan al- Wazzan. Hasan and his family were forced to flee to Fez, where he grew up and became a very well-off merchant. The book really gives a clear picture of his family life as a child, his education, his marriages, his travels, and his bitter- sweet reminiscence of exile. The narrator of Amin Maalouf's historical novel, Hasan al-Wazzan - who came to be named Leo Africanus - was born in 1488, in the weakening days of Moorish Granada. At the age of 4, Hasan and his family went into exile, like many other Muslims and Jews who declined to accept the new faith and managed to flee from
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He finds a lifelong friend at school, Harun, and together they roam the streets of the city, looking for adventure. Hasan accompanies his uncle on his first tactful mission, and as their caravan roam the huge Sahara, his uncle fills in the historic gaps for young Hasan, teaching him the art of storytelling. ''His tone was so reassuring,'' Hasan later recalls, ''that it made me breathe once more the odors of the Granada of my birth, and his prose was so bewitching that my camel seemed to move forwards in time with the rise and fall of its rhythms.'' When the uncle dies, Hasan takes command of the caravan and returns home with his first wife, while his sister Miriam is forced to the lepers' quarter in Fez.
At the end of the fifteenth century, however, Fez was still enjoying great commercial prosperity and was at the peak of its fame as a seat of learning, its mosques, and libraries being the resort of students from many parts of the Muslim world, it was therefore the most natural haven for the exiles from Granada.
Next, his travels took him eastward across the Sahara to Egypt en route to Mecca for the Hajj, the annual Pilgrimage. On the boat trip up the Nile he met a woman who gave him the use of her house for his break in Cairo. It was there that he met and married the beautiful Nur, widow of a nephew and rival to the Ottoman caliph, Selim the Grim. “In no other city than Cairo, does

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