Leo Africanus (novel)
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First paperback edition cover
|Original title||Léon, l'Africain|
|Publisher||New Amsterdam Books|
Published in English
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|LC Class||PQ3979.2.M28 L413 1991|
Leo Africanus is a 1986 novel written in French by Amin Maalouf, depicting the life of a historical Renaissance-era traveler, Leo Africanus. Since very little is actually known about his life, the book fills in the historical episodes, placing Leo in the company of many of the key historical figures of his time, including three popes, (Leo X, Adrian VI, and Pope Clement VII), two Ottoman emperors (Selim I and Suleiman the Magnificent), with appearances by Boabdil (the last Moorish king of Granada), Askia Mohammad I of the Songhai Empire, Ferdinand of Spain, and Francis I of France, as well as the artist Raphael and other key political and cultural figures of the period.
Leo Africanus is Maalouf's first novel. It received high praise. It is written in the form of a memoir.
The book is divided into four sections, each organized year by year to describe a key period of Leo Africanus's life, and each named after the city that played the major role in his life at the time: Granada, Fez, Cairo, and Rome. While filled with biographical hypotheses and historical speculations, the book offers a vivid description of the Renaissance world, with the decline of the traditional Muslim kingdoms and the hope inspired by the Ottoman Empire, as it grew to threaten Europe and restore Muslim unity.
- "On a Camel Moving Forward in Time" (a review of Amin Maalouf, Leo Africanus. Norton, 1989), The New York Times Book Review, March 12, 1989
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