Dalrymple, From the Holy Mountain (1998)
William Dalrymple, From the Holy Mountain. A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium (Flamingo, London 1998)
“Nobody but William Dalrymple – and possibly Patrick Leigh Fermor – could have produced so compulsively readable book” (John Julius Norwich, Observer).
Dalrymple, the Scottish author of two previous award-winning travelogues, In Xanadu and City of Djinns, followed in 1989 the path of the monk John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist, who trekked through the Byzantine Empire in the late sixth century, when exotic forms of Christian practice were nurtured in fortified monasteries and remote hermitages. Among the monks' contemporaries were the stylites, ascetics who declaimed the wisdom of God from high atop the pillars where they lived. Another contemporary, coincidentally, was the prophet Mohammed. Soon after the monks' journey, Christianity would begin a thousand-year decline in the Middle East (or the old Eastern Provinces of the Byzantium), swamped by the great expansion of Islam that continues to this day.
Dalrymple’s inspiration and his “guide book” to the Christian Levant was The Spiritual Meadow written by John Moschos. The oldest surviving manuscript is kept in the Library of the Monastery of Iviron in Mount Athos (Greece); from the Iviron starts the modern travel book consisted by six chapters.
Chapter I The Holy Mountain / Mount Athos pp. 1-21. Chapter II Istanbul, Antakya (Antioch), Urfa, Diyarbakir, Mardin and the Syriac Orthodox Monasteries Deir el-Zafaran and Mar Gabriel in Tour Abdin pp. 23-129. Chapter III Syria pp. 131-191. Chapter IV Lebanon pp. 193-275. Chapter V The Holy Land pp. 277-372. Chapter VI Egypt pp. 373-454. Glossary, List of Bibliographical Sources, Index pp. 455-483. Illustrations (BW) by Jeff Fisher. Paper back.