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Trickster Travels

A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

Natalie Zemon Davis

Hill and Wang

"[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 pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone; by 1527, it is likely that he returned to North Africa and to the language, culture, and faith in which he had been raised. Natalie Zemon Davis offers a virtuoso study of the fragmentary, partial, and often contradictory traces that al-Hasan al-Wazzan left behind him, and a superb interpretation of his extraordinary life and work.
"[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 pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone; by 1527, it is likely that he returned to North Africa and to the language, culture, and faith in which he had been raised. Natalie Zemon Davis offers a virtuoso study of the fragmentary, partial, and often contradictory traces that al-Hasan al-Wazzan left behind him, and a superb interpretation of his extraordinary life and work.

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TRICKSTER TRAVELS (Chapter 1)

Living in the Land of Islam

SITTING IN A ROMAN PRISON in 925/1519, a Muslim captive decided to write his three-part name in Arabic on a manuscript he had borrowed from the Vatican Library: al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan (figure 1). So we learn that his father was Muhammad and his grandfather Ahmad al-Wazzan. "Al-Fasi," he continued, showing his origins in the Arabic fashion, "from Fez," though elsewhere he inserted "al-Gharnati" to make clear he had been born in Granada and then brought up in Fez.1

Would that al-Hasan al-Wazzan had been as forthcoming

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REVIEWS

Praise for Trickster Travels

"Brings the sixteenth-century Mediterranean to life with freshness, vividness, and telling detail." --Clifford Geertz, The New York Review of Books

"A beautifully written and thoughtful book that shows off some of the sophisticated tools for reading and parsing evidence that historians have been developing in recent years." --Peter N. Miller, The New Republic
 
"Trickster Travels is a masterpiece of the historian's craft and craftiness. A brilliant storyteller, Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the life of Al-Hasan al-Wazzan, the great Renaissance geographer known to the West as Leo Africanus. And what a life it was: exile from Muslim Spain in the wake of the Catholic conquest; restless travels in Africa in the service of the sultan of Fez; capture by pirates and imprisonment in Rome; conversion to Christianity and release from prison; an outpouring of remarkable books, introducing Africa and Islam to European intellectuals; and finally a return to North Africa and to the language, culture and faith in which he had been raised. Davis' great gift lies not only in her tenacious ability to follow this twisting path but also in her scholarly determination to tease out its rich implications. This is an essential book for anyone who wishes to understand what it means to live between two violently warring worlds." --Stephen Greenblatt
"Brings the sixteenth-century Mediterranean to life with freshness, vividness, and telling detail." --Clifford Geertz, The New York Review of Books

"A beautifully written and thoughtful book that shows off some of the sophisticated tools for reading and parsing evidence that historians have been developing in recent years." --Peter N. Miller, The New Republic
 
"Trickster Travels is a masterpiece of the historian's craft and craftiness. A brilliant storyteller, Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the life of Al-Hasan al-Wazzan, the great Renaissance geographer known to the West as Leo Africanus. And what a life it was: exile from Muslim Spain in the wake of the Catholic conquest; restless travels in Africa in the service of the sultan of Fez; capture by pirates and imprisonment in Rome; conversion to Christianity and release from prison; an outpouring of remarkable books, introducing Africa and Islam to European intellectuals; and finally a return to North Africa and to the language, culture and faith in which he had been raised. Davis' great gift lies not only in her tenacious ability to follow this twisting path but also in her scholarly determination to tease out its rich implications. This is an essential book for anyone who wishes to understand what it means to live between two violently warring worlds." --Stephen Greenblatt

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Natalie Zemon Davis

  • Natalie Zemon Davis is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita at Princeton University. Her books include Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision and Woman on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
  • Natalie Zemon Davis Ingrid von Kruse
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Trickster Travels

A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

Natalie Zemon Davis

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hill and Wang

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