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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different 60s, 20 July 2011
This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
A weird and whacky view of a different sixties. Sex and drungs and rock 'n' roll? No. Sufism and quite some erudition in the world of philosophical meanderings and Islam. Often funny and stimulating. Would it have been as interesting (or accessibl;e) for me if I hadn't been at Oxford and indeed in Algeria at around the same time - albeit moving in very different circles? Dunno. Quite hard work in places and you certainly need an open mind, one not looking for 'answers'. But as a record of one man's 'journey' it is often provoking (in a good way). He writes from a different perspective now with no real clue as to why he reached where he has. But that doesn't matter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something remains, 19 April 2012
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
Francoise Hardy, Velvet Underground, Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear; Frithjof Schuon, Christmas Humphreys, Ouspensky; The Meaning of Life, talking all night, hitch-hiking; Better Books, S.O.A.S, Notting Hill Project; Aleister Crowley, Louis Massignon (but oddly, not Henri Corbin), Shaikh al-Alawi; LSD, speed, strange tobacco. In fact, I didn't buy this because of the 60's nostalgia (I have my own, and don't normally need anyone else's), but because I have liked all of Robert Irwin's books, and like the way he writes, and here his down to earth humour and not infrequent wisdom (of which there are some very nice touches near the end) is given ample scope. But once into the book, almost every reference (except Sufi monastic life and black magic, not my things) had a resonance for me. In short, an autobiography that reads like a cracking good novel. But it is a life, a variety of which we all, of that generation, have, and this is a rather a wonderful one. And, when it's beginning to close, and we have long since "fallen to earth", something of all of that, as in Irwin's case, remains.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Ecstasy, 20 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
If you have ever exprienced spiritual ecstasy -- even or especially unsought for -- Robert Irwin's Memoirs of a Dervish lets you know that you are not the only one. 'Something that nice people don't talk about' he says, and I agree, nobody does. It's a mystery. So exquisite the joy-pain, and it comes and goes where it listeth. But this is only one aspect of the book. Irwin gives us a bewildered and lively view of Oxford student life, a rapid history of Algeria and the Sufi movement. I was most moved, though, in a passage towards the end where he briefly describes his public school days: 'that school had destroyed my childhood.' A review I read of another book said the author was someone who was trying to make sense of the world, and that describes Robert Irwin to me. His dedication is 'To Helen, who rescued me from myself.' I'd like to know when and how -- another book, perhaps.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The inside story of a spiritual journey, 19 Jan. 2012
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Emmanuel Elliott (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book; read it twice in fact, which I rarely do. What shines through is the way the essential truth of the author's youthful Sufic exposure triumphed through to his later years, despite the blind alleys of intellectualism and drugs which he also explored from time to time. This is an honest and open account of a spiritual journey, one that moves one to recognize a sincere brother. If I have one lament, it would be in relation to the casual way Mr. Irwin dismisses Subud, which in my opinion and experience, can be said to equate with 'doing the beautiful,' to quote from the Gabriel Hadith.
Emmanuel Elliott
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous memoir., 30 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
An excellent and honest assessment of his early days by a friend of several decades. I made many comparisons and contrasts with my undergraduate and postgraduate years which came best part of a decade before his. It reminds of days when Islam appeared far less threatening than now, especially with the recent assassination in Algeria.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual High, 8 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
The review by Mick Brown in the Literary Review (April 2011) begins: "This delightfully eccentric memoir begins with one of the most arresting opening sentences I have read in a long time. 'It was in my first year at Oxford,' Robert Irwin writes, 'that I decided that I wanted to become a Muslim saint'...For the reader, the journey...is an illuminating and immensely engrossing one."
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 12 Aug. 2014
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Viktor Wynd (Miami, Florida) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties (Paperback)
brilliant & deeply engrossing
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Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties by Robert Irwin (Paperback - 14 April 2011)
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