A STREET IN MARRAKECH by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea


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Elizabeth Fernea, her anthropologist husband, and three children lived in the Muslim quarter of Marrakech for the year 1971-72. For the first five months of their stay, their neighbors' suspicion of foreigners and their cultural reticence prevented Fernea from learning much about Moroccan life and experience. ""What were we going to do in this beautiful house for a solid year?"" she asks at one point, and she fills up much of the book's first half with how-we-spent-our-summer-vacation trivia. Fortunately, the cultural ice eventually breaks with Fernea's invitation to a neighborhood wedding. Gradually she begins to unravel the community's secrets, discovers the centrality of the Moroccan family (""How can you know about people,"" one woman asks her, ""if they are strangers and not of your family?""), learns how to deal with the merchants, attends religious festivals, and begins to understand the cohesiveness of local life when a poor woman dies and the whole street pitches in for her funeral. But she never progresses beyond personal encounters to really explain the complex society of Rue Tresor. Still, readers wanting to learn informally about Middle East customs may find the family's contacts with Moroccan tradesmen and neighbors incidentally rewarding.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday