A Byzantine Journey

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Random House, 1995 - Travel - 330 pages
A Byzantine Journey is a richly detailed portrayal of the cultural history of the Byzantine Empire, recounted episodically as Ash focuses on the surreal landscapes and the startling monuments surrounding him. Ash starts in Istanbul and crosses the Sea of Marmara to travel through Anatolia, the region of Asiatic Turkey that was the source of the empire's wealth and manpower. He finds his way through a country of anachronisms and contrasts, of bloody feuds and frescoed cave-churches, of saints and sinners, of emperors and sultans. In the process, he discovers that the history of Byzantium is relevant still; indeed, Ash points out the direct connection between the Turkish conquest of the empire and the present war in Bosnia. A Byzantine Journey introduces the reader to an exotic cast of characters, including the impassioned aesthete Theophilus; the great mystical poet Celaleddin Rumi; the bishop and necromancer Theodore Santabarenos; and the Empress Theophano - "a dazzling figure wrapped in the smoke of rumor and slander".

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The vestigial glories of Byzantium and its world return to life in this superbly written travelogue by poet Ash (The Burnt Pages, not reviewed). In recent decades, Byzantine studies have come into ... Read full review

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