Advertisement

ARABIA: A Journey Through the Labyrinth ...

ARABIA: A Journey Through the Labyrinth by Jonathan Raban (Touchstone: $11). A noted British journalist, Raban offers a vivid account of his travels in Egypt, Jordan and the Persian Gulf. He’s obviously fascinated by the transitional cultures he sees, but doesn’t seem to like them very much. He decries the modern skyscrapers built by oil-rich Gulf sheiks as sterile and culturally anonymous, disdains the ancient filth of Cairo and dismisses the money-hungry Western businessmen who flock to the wealthy states of the Middle East like flies around a jar of caviar. Raban longs for a slightly romanticized version of an earlier Arabic culture that he perceives as being purer and more truly Arabian. In the most insightful sections of the book, he focuses on the Arabic language, which he compares to the florid English of the 17th-Century theater, and suggests that linguistic misinterpretations lie at the root of many larger intercultural misunderstandings.


Advertisement
Advertisement