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Subtitled The Travels and Missions of the Chevalier d'Arvieux, 1653-1697, this fascinating book defies exact definition. What Mr. Lewis presents is an easily and quickly read condensation of the lengthy, self-told life story of a man who spent nearly half a century, first as a merchant and later as a representative of Louis XIV, in North Africa and the Near East. D'Arvleux was an intelligent, observant, lively, and thoroughly likeable person, who offers us the unique image of a man ""gone Turk"" outwardly, admiring as well as perfectly understanding the Moslem cultures, and yet, beneath his beard and burnoose, so to speak, remaining almost the typical powdered, satin-clad courtier of St. Germain. The insights into the daily lives of Turkoman, Arab, and Algerian are somehow made all the more vivid by this double-jointed perspective, and the accounts of the little-known Franco-Moslem relations are a valuable, if restricted, contribution to our understanding of the broader aspects of the era. Mr. Lewis has brought d'Arvleux's story into clearer focus for us with pertinent references to other early travellers in the area, and, unobtrusively, with his own impressively detailed knowledge of the 17th Century European scene. It is an out of the way book, yes, but one well worth going out of one's way to enjoy.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1962
Publisher: Harcourt, World & Brace