- Gebundene Ausgabe: 252 Seiten
- Verlag: University of Wisconsin Press (Oktober 2003)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0299192903
- ISBN-13: 978-0299192907
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14 x 2 x 21,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.339.992 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Cleopatra's Wedding Present: Travels Through Syria (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Oktober 2003
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Mehr über den Autor
"This is not a dutiful . . . examination of a country, but it is a well-informed guide to a larger interior landscape." James Owen, "Literary Review""
Adopting the "Tristram Shandy" approach to travel writing, Robert Tewdwr Moss weaves together travellers' stories - including two love affairs - and cultural reflections about aspects of Syrian history. He considers the impact of Orientalism - with its over-romanticizing of life in the Arab world by westerners - on present day East-West relations. He describes some of the extraordinary works of art, some of which have been turfed up during road repairs. He also looks at the status of minority groups and visits the site of the Armenian massacre. He reveals a part of the world on the cusp of change. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Moss forays from Aleppo to other locations in Syria in chapters that begin abruptly, with Moss on the road to a new destination. In other locations, his experiences are similar in tone to that of Aleppo: A lonely man, part tourist, part journalist, and partly a man in quest of some ineffable longing, meets a few people in the new locale, and strikes up brief friendships before moving to the next destination. These vignettes of ordinary people, though, mainly young men, such as the ex-commando named Jihad, but also a variety of people, such as Gladys, the Christian florist recently repatriated from New York, are the highlights of the book. In these vignettes, Moss illustrates how everyday life in Syria is shaped by history, culture, and an oppressive political regime. Nonetheless, the characters Moss encounters are truly individual, never simple products of their environment.
Insightful, too, are the author's mediations on the longing that draws us to travel, and its counterpart heartache at leaving a place. "To travel is to always be to some extent in a state of bereavement, always to have somebody die on you a little," he writes. The fact that Moss was murdered on the day he finished the book, shortly after returning from Syria to London, is oft cited as reason to read this book. This would be a poor reason to read the book; however, his thought that "partir, c'est toujours mourir un peu," does take on added poignancy as a result of his death. To illustrate this theme of love and loss, Moss relates Rupert's doomed pursuit of Syrian boys, culminating in a letter to Rupert the Moss intercepts and steams open. He also relates the more successful, yet also more tragic, love affairs of the Victorian Mary Digby, whose final love, a sheik, brought her to Syria, where she would die. However, it is frustrating that Moss himself initiates a narrative that is personal, not only journalistic, and focused on desire, only to direct the reader's gaze away from himself. Moss speaks of the pain of parting, yet himself takes leave of all he meets in a cool and aloof fashion. The letter we wish he would open is his own, but this letter, scarce begun, remains sealed.
I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting an up close and personal look at life in Syria. From a literary aspect, Moss proves a talented writer, who intertwines elegy, elegance, and wit, in a style reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh. However, because of the disjointed narrative, and the frustration with this fascinating persona who begins his own tale several times, only to turn away from it, I found myself wanting to skim the best parts of the book and leave the rest, wondering how Moss might have rewritten it.
One member of our group had recently returned from a trip which took in Syria and he thought it was an accurate description that captured the feel of the place.
Many of us recognise his description of souks where one corridor looks like another and the smell of offal and meat and piles of guts can make one sick. Pall Mall cigarettes are sold singly on streets. Squat loos and back gardens with toilet paper all around, flyovers, Victorian-like barber shops open in the evening, shaving with cut-throat razors, the mournful sound of the water wheel as `agonised lament', a washbasin plumbed in to the hall, developers who destroy the most beautiful parts of a building first and then ask why anything should be preserved, power cuts and it is hot without a fan and you cannot open a window because of dust storm, aping European architecture whereas Arab houses have courtyards in the middle, the constant blare of car horns and the loop of CNN news - just like almost everywhere else in the Middle East. That feeds in to fantasies about the greenness of England - mild, ordered and urbane.
We get a description of the "hot winds," "the blinding heat," the "fine brown dust" from the dust storms, the "chaos of the streets and the air "clotted with diesel fumes hanging like a cloak around us." The dirty collapsing towns had a "great past and no present" full of "the old merchants you see here - sly, and leathery, survivors."
Then there's the con-artists: Hisham/James speaks with a gay cockney accent and said he used to work at Heaven yet had never set foot outside Syria.
There is a Jewish area yet most Jews have moved away. It is forbidden to teach Hebrew. The rabbi turned business man keeps an eye on the synagogue: claiming to be the place where Elijah anointed Elisha, the synagogue had recently been restored.
The guide book was banned for containing anti-government information. There had been a massacre of anyone suspected of holding anti-Baath sentiments. It was an inhuman system yet the police who took passports on the bus came back with ice creams.
Eastern men share their bed with friends and it is said that an English boy in bed is ten times better than woman, yet it's the other way round. Israelis, especially soldiers seek Palestinian lovers in Independence Park. A Hotel won't allow friends upstairs so someone paid for three beds yet would only use one. That would keep the police at bay. There were, however, majlis, rooms for entertaining guests. An Arab would rather stand you up than say no to your face.
The night after completing the book, the author was murdered and the final revisions of his book lost on the stolen laptop. For that reason alone, you owe it to him to read this book.