Ethiopia Through Writ­ers’ Eyes

Yves-Marie Stranger (ed.) Eland Pub­lish­ing Ltd Pub­lished: July 2016 Price: £14.99

Timeless Travels Magazine - - BOOK REVIEW -

In Ethiopia Through Writ­ers’

Eyes Yves- Marie Stranger makes an un­ortho­dox case for Ethiopia as a lit­er­ary act of cre­ation, a coun­try writ­ten into ex­is­tence by Greek his­to­ri­ans, the Bi­ble, the Holy Ko­ran, and a host of dreamy arm­chair trav­ellers, from Doc­tor John­son to anony­mous Abyssinian monks.

The an­thol­ogy brings to­gether a co­terie of wouldbe mid­wives, rang­ing from Herodotus to Prester John, by way of Edgar Al­lan Poe and Ed­ward Gib­bon (and some 77 other au­thors, from the jour­nal­ist Stan­ley to Dervla Mur­phy), who con­spire to birth a strange land made up of leg­end and fact in equal mea­sures.

Re­mote coun­tries – to para­phrase a ti­tle of Eve­lyn Waugh, also an­thol­o­gized here – no longer ex­ist, or so we are led to be­lieve. But to­day, Ethiopia still re­mains very largely an un­known, more of­ten ob­scured than it is re­vealed by its wealth of writ­ings. If Stranger at times stretches his car­to­graphic metaphor, the de­vice does nev­er­the­less pro­vide a ro­bust com­pass with which to plumb anew the abyss of Ethiopia’s rich lit­er­ary her­itage with great imag­i­na­tion.

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