ARABIA FELIX by Thorkild Hansen


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A Danish writer's recreation of six of his countrymen's mid-18th century journeys into the then unknown world of the Yemen, or southwest Arabia. The book has a period flavor, (either that or the translation has), and its stranger-than-fiction events are often the stuff of Hollywood adventures. Then too the dubbed in commentary does not help: ""Death has called them aside one by one and whispered the same thing in their car. If they wanted to flee death, they must also flee Arabia Felix,"" or(it ends a chapter), ""Niebuhr did not have a cold. Von Haven was not suffering from a bed stomach. They had malaria."" (Clash of cymbals in the background.) However, there are enough of the genre's perennial dividends: minute historical documentation, excerpts from diaries, colorful descriptions (the Indian Ocean, Suez), a good forward-thrust plot, and some gamy portraits.) In the end Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia) did not turn out to be so: disease, deprivations, the natives etc. Interesting archaeological, anthropological encounters (Sinai, Tehama, Persopolis).

Publisher: Harper & Row