More than just an account of his travels in Cairo, Beirut, and Constantinople in 1842, Gerard de Nerval's "Journey to the Orient" is a quest for the unknown. If his narrator seems credulous in his retelling of legends of the origins of the pyramids and the mysteries of the Druzes, it is with this purpose in mind. While the Orientalists of his day ...
More than just an account of his travels in Cairo, Beirut, and Constantinople in 1842, Gerard de Nerval's "Journey to the Orient" is a quest for the unknown. If his narrator seems credulous in his retelling of legends of the origins of the pyramids and the mysteries of the Druzes, it is with this purpose in mind. While the Orientalists of his day were confident of having, in the words of Edward Said, "grasped, appropriated, reduced, and codified" the Orient, Nerval's Orient remains elusive, impossible to grasp. Poignantly dramatized in the thematic centerpieces of the tales of the Queen of Sheba and the Caliph Hakim, what takes shape in this visionary travelogue, as the author's hopes are alternately disappointed and rapturously renewed, is the story of the artist's search for the ideal."
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Near Fine. No Jacket. "In 1844 the French painter and poet Gerard de Nerval travelled to the Levant, to Cairo, Beirut and Constantinople, the 'font of drug-taking', in search of hashish, new and wondrous experiences, the occult, encounters with the culture of the Middle East and, especially, the pursuit of the Eternal Female. Journey to the Orient is the result of these adventures. Whether he is describing the return of the pilgrims from Mecca or the niceties of buying a Javanese slave-girl, Nerval has an eye for the real which is at once fantastic and humorous. Impressionistic and lively, immediate and nervous, the style has not dated, and with his wild fluctuations of mood, the swashbuckling narrator reminds the reader of Henry Miller. Journey to the Orient is one of the most important literary rediscoveries of the past half-century." (Publisher)
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