From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium

From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium

Paperback

By (author) William Dalrymple

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  • Publisher: Flamingo
  • Format: Paperback | 512 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 36mm | 381g
  • Publication date: 5 May 1998
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006547745
  • ISBN 13: 9780006547747
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: 24 b/w, 8 col plates (16pp)
  • Sales rank: 16,144

Product description

A rich blend of history and spirituality, adventure and politics, laced with the thread of black comedy familiar to readers of William Dalrymple's previous work. In AD 587, two monks, John Moschos and Sophronius the Sophist, embarked on an extraordinary journey across the Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. Their aim: to collect the wisdom of the sages and mystics of the Byzantine East before their fragile world shattered under the eruption of Islam. Almost 1500 years later, using the writings of John Moschos as his guide, William Dalrymple set off to retrace their footsteps. Taking in a civil war in Turkey, the ruins of Beirut, the tensions of the West Bank and a fundamentalist uprising in Egypt, William Dalrymple's account is a stirring elegy to the dying civilisation of Eastern Christianity.

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Author information

William Dalrymple's first book, 'In Xanadu', won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award. His second, 'City of Djinns', won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. His third, 'From the Holy Mountain', was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award and shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. He has also published a collection of his pieces about India, 'The Age of Kali', and three history books: 'White Mughals', which won the Wolfson Prize, 'The Last Mughal', which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and 'Nine Lives', which won the Asia House Literary Award.

Review quote

'Compulsively readable.' John Julius Norwich, Observer 'Everything a really good travel book should be: witty, learned and also very funny.' Eric Newby 'Any travel writer who is so good at his job as to be brilliant, applauded, loved and needed has to have an unusual list of qualities, and William Dalrymple has them all in aces. Dalrymple's ear for conversation is as good as Alan Bennett's. The best and most unexpected book I have read since I forget when.' Peter Levi 'A rich stew of history and travel narrative spiced with anecdote, opinion and bon mots...The future of travel literature lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple who shine their torches into the shadowy hinterland of the human story - the most foreign territory of all.' Independent 'Dalrymple stands out as one of our most talented travel writers. Energetic, thoughtful, curious and courageous.' Sunday Times 'William Dalrymple has effortlessly assumed the mantle of Robert Byron and Patrick Leigh Fermor.' Guardian 'A splendid, effective and impressive book.' Financial Times

Editorial reviews

A memorable historical journey through the twilight of Eastern Christianity in the Middle East, heartfelt and beautifully told. Dalrymple (The City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, 1994) has carved an unorthodox niche for an English travel writer: He is following in the 1,400-year-old path of an Orthodox monk. In 587, Friar John Moschos and a young student trekked across the Middle East, collecting precious relics and manuscripts from obscure monasteries, from present-day Turkey to Egypt. Dalrymple's quest is similar; he is preserving the stories of the last generation of Orthodox Christians in the Middle East. Retracing Moschos's steps, Dalrymple finds once glorious Christian communities on the brink of extinction. One Turkish village that had 17 Syrian Orthodox churches "now has only one [Christian] inhabitant, its elderly priest." In Turkey, Armenian Christianity has been more systematically erased, with cathedrals renovated into mosques, gravestones obliterated, and any mention of the Armenian presence in Turkey censored from publications, turning their existence into a historical myth. In one town, Dalrymple interviews a superannuated survivor of the Syrian Christian resistance of 1915, when Syrians witnessed the genocide of the Armenians and knew that they were next to be deported. Today, however, the descendants of Orthodox Christians in Turkey and elsewhere are emigrating as quickly as they can. Old churches stand abandoned or are employed for other purposes - in Istanbul, for example, Dalrymple is denied entrance to a famous basilica because there is a Turkish beauty contest going on inside. Dalrymple is a talented writer, with a subtle wit, a keen eye for historical irony, and a relish for architectural detail. If his treatment of Eastern Orthodoxy is somewhat romantic, ignoring centuries of internecine conflict among various ethnic groups, it is understandable given his urgency to record the plight of this last generation of Orthodox practitioners in Muslim-dominated areas. An evensong for a dying civilization. (Kirkus Reviews)