Thursday, October 29, 2009

LA Blog 1

This book - Leo Africanus - is very different from the first two more non fiction style books we have read in this course. This book is special in that it relates historical events very interestingly and in a way that educates the reader about the time. Although Maalouf talks about specific people, he is able to fill in the gaps with historically relevant and accurate facts and events. The beginning of the book focuses on Leo's childhood and also gives an introduction to how the culture was back during the time. Some key events include, Leo's parents betrothal, marital problems with having a 'second wife,' Leo's birth, the celebration of his circumsision, etc.

Reading this book so far has been interesting to me because although I am not intimate with the culture and the religion, I am not completely unacquainted with it either. I know a great deal about the religion and the society and look at it through a more personal way rather than a foreigner's perspective. I was reminded of when I read Hosseini's The Kite Runner, where I felt the same type of reserved intimacy with the Afghani culture. Some of the words that are mentioned I can figure out the meaning based on some relations with Hindi words and meanings. Some of the superstitions I have heard also. There are definently a few aspects that overlap. Yet, the status of women are never a surprise, but rather something to lament. However, that it what they called normal and what they were used to. I did find Leo's mother's grief and anxiety over the second wife and the pressure to have a boy to be very heart wrenching and terrifying. I find the description of emotions and internal strifes very thought provoking.

I also wonder how the Jews, Muslims and Christians were able to coexist. I understand that all three religions come from of the same roots, however there are also some very MAJOR differences. In today's age, they really can't get along...what was different in the past? How on one side could there be crusades, and on the other religious tolerance and diversity in the Andulasia?

1 comment:

  1. I'm not going to pretend to know the answer to your question, but I can only suppose that it was because religious differences hadn't really occurred to them. That's not to say that the religions didn't know that they were different from one another, but they didn't immediately jump to a conflict as a result. Trade and business were more important, so as long as religion didn't get in the way of those, it didn't matter how different it was for various people. Nowadays, the conflict is ingrained.