I’d been wanting to read A Moroccan Trilogy: Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez by Jerome and Jean Tharaud for quite a while, Morocco is not a country I know very much about, so when Eland announced they would be releasing this book I decided I must read and delve into somewhere previously unexplored to me.
The Brothers Tharaud, having been summoned from the Western Front by the Resident-General of the French Protectorate, spent the years of 1917-1919 immersed within Moroccan culture and society, not just experiencing the daily goings-on but also experiencing mountain battles, hidden love and discovering the trials of the Berber tribe. A Moroccan Trilogy presents not just a unique travelogue through an embattled landscape but also an introduction to a time and culture not widely acknowledged at the time of writing, indeed, aspects of Berber Islam not being considered as Muslims due to their inability to speak Arabic may not be something widely known in circles of the time.
One of the more fascinating aspects of A Moroccan Trilogy for myself are the descriptions of visiting the markets at the caravanserai (essentially equivalent to a roadside pub, or hotel, where travellers could rest). The narrative here is sublimely indulgent describing a “Noahs-Ark variety of animals milling around” on market day and reminding us that Cervantes and Robinson Crusoe were sold in a place such as this, a stark reminder that slavery was not such a distant memory.
Eland has published the first English translation of A Moroccan Trilogy: Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez and stands out among the already superb selection of travel writing for which Eland has become renowned and offers a unique insight into not just culture but history.
- A Moroccan Trilogy: Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez by Jerome and Jean Tharaud is published by Eland Books (£15.00). To order a copy go to www.travelbooks.co.uk
Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at tomasstanger.com