Friday, November 13, 2009

Leo Africanus

The latest readings marked a pivotal point in the story in which Hasan is reborn into Leo Africanus. His life was very unique from any other’s of his time or now. It began with Hasan being banished from his community for supporting the pardon of his brother-in-law who was the suspected murderer of Zarwali.Hasan left Fez with lots of riches and a group of guards, both which were lost at a site. At this site, Hasan went in a cave for protection from a storm and the dying guards with Hiba, his slave and lover. They stayed there a few days and during this time Hasan realized he was in love with her. So when they left the cave, he returned her to her family. After that, he left for Timbuktu, but experienced yet another misfortune. A massive fire burnt down a great portion of the city, so he left for Cairo. Eventually he ended up in Rome where the Pope, Leo X baptized and Christianized him, donning him the name ‘Leo Africanus.’

In Rome, Leo was acquainted with Lutheranism. I’ve never read of this time in a narrative style and it’s actually really fascinating. The Protestant Reformation is one of the most major movements of the Christian church and here I am reading a first-hand experience from someone living through it. Not only does Maalouf weave in historical figures but he also includes major historical movements that impact the plot equally as strongly. I haven’t got the time to do research at the moment, and I’m positive Maalouf did a ton, but I wonder if anyone has caught any historical inaccuracies? This work is fiction since it is written as a narrative, but it is set to the back drop of historical events. But in every other case of this, there is usually one or two things that are slightly changed for the plot to run smoothly. So my question is if there are any in Leo Africanus.

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