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Patrick Harpur

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Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar
Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar
by Robert Lebling
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shape-changing, 8 Nov. 2011
Most of us know little more of the Jinn than Aladdin's lamp can supply; but, just as in Africa animals are held to organise themselves in communities analogous to ours - just as in Ireland the people of fairy live a partly invisible life parallel to ours - so do the Jinn throng the Arab world, from Arabia to Iraq, through Syria, across North Africa to Zanzibar and beyond. Robert Lebling has done us the invaluable service of documenting the origins and nature of the Jinn who,no less than the elves of Old Europe, exert a profound influence on our everyday lives. Partly spiritual, partly physical, sometimes benign, often terrifying - always contradictory - these elusive, shape-shifting daimons not only haunt the wildernesses and empty quarters - they are also near us, nearer than we'd sometimes like; nearer, perhaps, than we are to ourselves. Lebling combines scholarship and journalistic skill to present a vivid and intriguing picture of these complex, ambiguous, fire-born forms. He is to be both congratulated and thanked; and I warmly recommend this book to... well, everyone.

The Water Theatre
The Water Theatre
by Lindsay Clarke
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underworld Journey, 6 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Water Theatre (Paperback)
The Water Theatre is another magnificent novel from Lindsay Clarke, whose The Chymical Wedding and Alice's Masque have already sent the pulses of those who love big themes unfolded in matchless prose, racing. This book is at once both his most personal and intimate, and also his most universal. To tackle head-on the pressing question of our time - how are we to retrieve our own souls and to re-make them, in Keats's sense of the world as `the vale of soul-making'? - would be virtually impossible for a lesser novelist; but Clarke succeeds triumphantly by re-creating in front of our eyes the ancient ritual of the nekiya, or Underworld Journey, by which we are intiated through a death and rebirth into the fullness of imaginative life and, finally, into our own deepest selves. By the end, exhausted and exhilirated, we rejoice in the revelation of all the secrets suspensefully witheld in the course of the story, and in the ravelling up of three lives which appear to us at first as akin to the separate threads at the back of a tapestry frame, but which, when it is turned over at the last, reveals a dazzling pattern of meaning.

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