Leo Africanus Book Review Essay example

1299 Words Sep 13th, 2010 6 Pages
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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The wealthy merchants lived there and everything seemed to be perfect. Eventually, life in Cairo became difficult and they had to escape. In Cairo, they lived several months of unexpected happiness but had to leave before it was too late and they were killed.
Leo Africanus made it to Rome by Sicilian pirate, who felt that to cancel out his crimes that he would bring an offering to God, or a gift to His representative on that side of the Mediterranean, Leo X. The gift just happened to be Leo Africanus. His years of captivity were painless for his body and profitable for the mind. His knowledge increased not only in what he has already studied, but from his teachers, peers, priests, Frenchmen, two Venetians, and a German from Saxony. In the book, “The Golden Trade of the Moors,” it said that the pope immediately freed the young man and granted him a pension and secured his conversation to Christianity. Leo converted to Christianity only to return to North Africa and convert back to Islam once again. No state of mind or situation ever lasted for long.
In the end, he goes back to Africa and he talks to his son about the journey he has accomplished. He wonders if misfortune is called out to him or does he call out misfortune because of the shipwrecks, the sack of Rome, the chastisement of Cairo, the fire of Timbuktu, and the fall of Granada. This is when he warns his son about wherever he may go, he will be questioned about his skin and his prayers.

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