Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

"Marrakesh through writers eyes" by Barnaby Rogerson and Stephen Lavington (eds) (Eland, 2003)

Extracts about Marrakesh from Canetti, Wyndham Lewis, George Orwell, Ester Freud, etc

Canetti wrote that "A minaret is more like a lighthouse, but with a voice for a light." He's best at describing the Mellah (the Jewish Quarter) - "One is almost inclined to say that the dignity of these people lies in their circumspection"

Wyndham Lewis wrote "Marrakesh is yet a vast rendezvous rather than a capital", a sentiment that appears in several of the pieces.

I didn't know that Orson Welles (who doesn't have a piece here) filmed Othello in Essaouira. Nor did I know that the main square was a car park for a while - the government's idea of modernising.

Sacheverell Sitwell (in a tour paid by France) wrote -

  • "so far as the Mediterranean civilisation is concerned, Marrakesh is, in very truth, the most Southern town of civilised history"
  • "Morocco, which was never great, was too violent even to be prosperous"
  • "Even more remote and quiet are the Saadian tombs ... The approach to them, down so many crooked passages, is the proof of how concealed and hidden they must have been. Beyond any question the Saadian tombs are the finest works of art in Morocco. Especially remarkable are the twelve pillars of honey coloured marble originally from Carrara, with their capitals which are of Byzantine elegance and simplicity. An ingenious author has lately proved that these were the pillars of white marble seen by Montagne, during his Italian travels, which columns were lying ready to be shipped to the Sultan of Morocco"
  • "The real Arab music, as it can be heard more easily in Fez, is, beyond dispute, dull and insipid. There remains the music which has Andalucian influence, more common, also, in Fez and in the North of Morocco, and the Berber music. But it is this latter, the Berber music, which gives the night in Marrkesh its character"

I liked Justin McGuinness's informative "Men of leather:the tanners of Marrakesh"

Gavin Maxwell (the author of 'Ring of Bright Water') writes or features in several of the pieces. He was a larger than life, troubled soul.

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