The Desert

The Desert

Book - 1993
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This is the diary of a journey on camelback through the Sinai desert by Julien Viaud (1850-1923) pseudonym, Pierre Loti artist, author, and prominent decadent eccentric. It was first published in French in 1895, and subsequently made available in dozens of French editions, but only now published in English (translation by Jay Paul Minn). Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Blackwell North Amer
Eccentric! Decadent! The words are pale when applied to Pierre Loti, the pseudonym of Julien Viaud, 1850-1923. Artist, naval officer, consort of countesses, and well-published author, he was a man whose excesses and experimentation mirror those of such Decadent contemporaries as Rimbaud and Verlaine.
First published in 1895 and finally available in English, The Desert has gone through dozens of French editions. Loti's book is a diary of a journey on camelback through the Sinai desert. He describes in detail the various sheikhs he encounters and the setup of the caravan, all crafted with poetic prose of gripping visual beauty.
Loti's preface hints at the reason behind the journey: in an attempt to bolster his flagging faith, he chose to visit the Holy Land, not by sea but across the desert from Cairo. Suffering (as he saw it) would prepare his soul for an awakened faith. Yet despite the perils of the open desert, the relative luxury of the trip is evident. Along with two traveling companions, the handsome (as he was called) Leo Themez and the Duke of Talleyrand-Perigord, there were twenty camels loaded with food, tents, Persian rugs, furniture, and servants.
This beautiful work, admirably rendered in English by Jay Paul Minn, reveals a rudderless man retracing biblical trails in the wilderness in fin-de-siecle style. Loti had the talent and the vision to convey his journey in a manner that places his work among the finest of his time.

Publisher: Salt Lake City : University of Utah Press, [1993]
Copyright Date: ©1993
ISBN: 9780874804270
Branch Call Number: 848x LOTI
Characteristics: xi, 149 pages : map ; 22 cm
Notes: Translation of: Le désert


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