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Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds
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Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  102 ratings  ·  13 reviews
"[A] fascinating tale of a man forced . . . to live between incompatible worlds. Highly recommended." --Library Journal


Al-Hasan al-Wazzan--born in Granada to a Muslim family that in 1492 went to Morocco--became famous as the great Renaissance writer Leo Africanus, author of the first geography of Africa to be published in Europe (in 1550). He had been captured by Christian...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Hill and Wang (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 243)
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Nicholas
Natalie Z. Davis's stated interests in mutually incomparable 'truths,' ambiguities, and speculative story-telling bear plenty of fruit in her most recent historical plunge: a cross-examination of cross-cultural relationships between cross and crescent worlds across a 16th-century Mediterranean milieu. Her analytical weapon of choice, neither a towering and typical monarch nor a Middle Aged Joe Sixpack (wink wink), was a Muslim scholar and diplomat named Al-Hasan al-Wazzan, conventionally known a...more
Victoria
October 19, 2009: This book is sloppy and unbalanced, and draws wide-ranging conclusions based on slender evidence. According to reviewers in Renaissance Quarterly, the Journal of World History, the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and the Journal of Global History, this is a totally credible way of doing history -- if you're Natalie Zemon Davis. Fortunately, she is Natalie Zemon Davis -- but I fundamentally disagree that this makes it acceptable. Her main argument is that al-Hasan al-Wazza...more
Sara
In Trickster Travels, Natalie Zemon Davis is as meticulous and complex as always. She has, again, reconstructed a life, a series of events, she has contextualized and used unreliable, meager written record to explore a long-dead human's psychological state. And, again, she has done so compellingly and persuasively. What sets Trickster Travels apart from much of her other work is that, at this latish (or at least not early) date in her career, Davis has completely shifted her historical focus to...more
Vivian Blaxell


Excessive use of the past tense auxiliary verbs: could have; would have; must have. Sometimes the historical evidence is not there and the historian may engage in a speculation grounded in what she knows about the way social, cultural, discursive and political practices operated in the time and place about which she writes. But when the majority of the study relies on this species of informed speculation, as does this study by the esteemed Natalie Zemon Davis, and without substantive discussion...more
Karen
What became clear to me as I was reading this is that there is very little in the way of hard facts concerning the man called Leo Africanus. Davis attempts to analyze his writings and other materials that reference him and build what is essentially a forensic biography.

For instance, Davis does not believe that Leo Africanus really converted from Islam to Christianity, and I find her reasons compelling. Ultimately, we cannot know what the man really thought because he left no records.

There is a...more
Tariq Mahmood
Found this book tough going as it is a proper history book of a Muslim traveller living in Rome for nine years. I was fascinated to read how much literary endeavours were undertaken by the Muslim noblemen of the 16th century at the tail end of Muslim power in the world much like the Western travellers of today touring the world. There are other similarities as well with the Muslim culture appearing to be much more sexually active and liberal as compared to the Western world back then. No wonder...more
Dan
Great history of the Christian and Muslim worlds in the sixteenth century. It's probably a bit too esoteric for the average reader: kind of like what people say about 19th century Russian literature (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, etc.): "I can't read that, because I just get lost in all those names!" Oh well, if you're interested in Christianity, Islam and the Middle East and Europe, you'd like this book.
Bethany
I have such a crush on Natalie Zemon Davis. I want to be her. Admittedly, this book can get a little frustrating with all the "mights" and "maybes" and "perhapses," but if the information's not there, I'd rather a historian be honest that she's positing a hypothetical rather than fooling the reader.
Itsbecka
This was good - a little dry. Especially because I never had a real good introduction to Islamic/North African history, and many times I couldn't remember who did what and when. It also probably didn't help I was trying to read this on a plane...
Scott Kellicker
Too much detail and too many characters for my taste. I wanted to hear the history of this interesting man, with the key part of history being 'story', but was overwhelmed by more details than my tiny brain could digest.

I gave up.
Alex
Early 16th c, Granada to Fez to Rome. A muslim scholar "between worlds" or something. Compelling stuff.
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