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Michael Haag knew Lawrence Durrell (and met Gerry and Margo) and is currently writing a biography of Lawrence Durrell for Yale University Press, which also published his Alexandria: City of Memory, a definitive study of Cavafy, Forster and Lawrence Durrell in the city. Haag has also written widely on the Egyptian, Classical and Medieval worlds and is the author of a dozen books, including, for Profile, The Tragedy of the Templars and The Quest for Mary Magdalene.
Simon Nye's TV series, The Durrells, is based loosely on Gerald Durrell's Corfu Trilogy and in particular his much-loved bestseller, My Family and Other Animals. These books in turn are based somewhat loosely on actual events. The real-life Durrells went to Corfu at the urging of Lawrence Durrell, who was already living on the island with his wife, Nancy Myers. Their intent was to keep the family together as his mother, Louisa, was drinking heavily and recovering from a breakdown; 'We can be proud of the way we brought her up,' Larry said, only half-jokingly, of the family's subsequent Corfu sojourn.
Mary Magdalene is a larger figure than any text, larger than the Bible or the Church; she has taken on a life of her own. She has been portrayed as a penitent whore, a wealthy woman, Christ's wife, an adulteress, a symbol of the frailty of women and an object of veneration. And, to this day, she remains a potent and mysterious figure. In the manner of a quest, this book follows Mary Magdalene through the centuries, explores how she has been reinterpreted for every age, and examines what she herself reveals about woman and man and the divine. It seeks the real Mary Magdalene in the New Testament and in the Gnostic gospels where she is extolled as the chief disciple of Christ. It investigates how and why the Church recast her as a fallen woman, it traces her story through the Renaissance when she became a goddess of beauty and love, and it looks at Mary Magdalene as the feminist icon she has become today.
Founded by Alexander the Great over 2,300 years ago, Alexandria has belonged both to the Mediterranean and to Egypt, a luxuriant out-planting of Europe on the coast of Africa, but also a city of the East - the fabled cosmopolitan town that fascinated travelers, writers, and poets in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where French and Arabic, Italian and Greek were spoken in the cafes and on the streets. In the pages of An Alexandrian Anthology, we follow the delight of travelers discovering the strangeness of the city and its variety and pleasures. Most of all they are haunted by the city's resplendent past - the famous Library, the temple built by Cleopatra for Antony, the great Pharos lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the world, of which only traces remain - we follow our travelers here too as they voyage through an immense ghost city of the imagination.
In 1187, nearly a century after the victorious First Crusade, Saladin captured Jerusalem. The Templars, headquartered on the Temple Mount, were driven from the city along with the Frankish population.The fall of Jerusalem was a turning point, the start of a narrative of desperate struggle and relentless loss. In little more than a century Acre would be destroyed, the Franks driven from Outremer, and the Templars themselves, reviled and disgraced, would face their final immolation. Michael Haag's new book explores the rise and fall of the Templars against the backdrop of the Crusader ideal and their settlement venture in Outremer. Haag argues that the Crusader States were a rare period when the population of Palestine had something approaching local rule, representing local interests - and the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin was a disaster. He contends that the Templars, as defenders of the Crusader States, were made scapegoats for a Europe whose newfound nationalism caused it to withdraw support for the Crusader venture. Throughout, he charts the Templars' rise and fall in gripping narrative, with their beliefs and actions set in the context of their time.
In this illuminating companion to Dan Brown's Inferno, historian Michael Haag sets out the truth behind the novel's myths, mysteries and locations. How do the clues unveiled in symbology professor Robert Langdon's daring quest from Florence to Venice and Istanbul overlap with history? What codes and symbols did Dante employ in the Divine Comedy and which secret religious, philosophical, and scientific themes are hidden within his work? What lies behind Botticelli's Mappa dell'Inferno? And what are the cult scientists known as transhumanists really up to? Inferno Decoded is a book that ranges as widely as Dan Brown's novel, from the terrors of the Black Death to the scientific debates around population growth and prolonging of life-spans, and from the economic, political, and religious tumult in Florence at the dawn of the Renaissance to real-life locations in Florence, Venice and Istanbul today. It is a must-read for anyone who has read Inferno and wondered just how its enigmatic questions are real or relevant.
This is a literary, social and political portrait of Alexandria during the first half of the twentieth century, a high-point in its history. Drawing on diaries, letters and interviews, Michael Haag recovers the lost life of the city, its cosmopolitan inhabitants and its literary characters. Located on the coast of Africa yet rich in historical associations with Western civilization, Alexandria was home to an exotic variety of people whose cosmopolitan families had long been rooted in the commerce and the culture of the entire Mediterranean world. Alexandria famously excited the imaginations of writers, and Haag folds intimate accounts of E. M. Forster, Greek poet Constantine Cavafy and Lawrence Durrell into the story of its inhabitants. He recounts the city's experience of the two world wars and explores the communities that gave Alexandria its unique flavour: the Greek, the Italian and the Jewish. The book deftly harnesses the sexual and emotional charge of cosmopolitan life in this extraordinary city, and highlights the social and political changes over the decades that finally led to Nasser's Egypt. 'Michael Haag's 'Alexandria' is a remarkable achievement. Not merely a composite biography of Forster, Cavafy and Durrell, or their relations with the city, it is also a history of Alexandria, full of fascinating detail.' Professor Sir Frank Kermode Michael Haag is a writer, photographer and publisher. He published and provided the afterword and notes to the first British edition of E. M. Forster's 'Alexandria: A History and a Guide', and he is the author/photographer of 'Alexandria Illustrated' (The American University in Cairo Press).
From Alexandria in the north to Abu Simbel in the south, from the mountains of Sinai in the east to the oasis of Siwa in the west, and with 5,000 years of recorded history, Egypt is one of the greatest tourism destinations in the world, with something to see, do, learn, eat, or drink for visitors of every stripe. Michael Haag's insightful and thoughtful guide packs more information and good advice, historical detail and fascinating tidbits than most, and any visitor will find it the perfect vade mecum, whether exploring the bazaars of Cairo, the temples of Luxor, or the oases of the Western Desert.
This is a full-color celebration of the monuments and landscape of Upper Egypt. Luxor stands on the site of ancient Thebes, Egypt's opulent New Kingdom capital. It encompasses the spectacular temples of Luxor and Karnak on the east bank of the Nile, and on the west bank the vast necropolis, which includes the Colossi of Memnon, the famed Ramesseum, Queen Hatshepsut's magnificent funerary temple, and the Valley of the Kings, riddled with royal tombs, among them the fabled resting place of Tutankhamun. The splendor and profusion of pharaonic monuments at Luxor justifies its reputation as the greatest outdoor museum in the world. Reaching beyond Luxor, this book also covers all the major sites of Upper Egypt, including Abydos, Dendera, Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo. Special attention is given to Aswan, one of the most beautiful places in Egypt, with its nearby island temple of Isis at Philae. The climax of this informed and richly illustrated book comes with the remarkable temples at Abu Simbel, with their colossal figures of Ramesses II and his lovely wife Nefertari cut from the living rock.
An order of warrior monks founded to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem, the Templars were among the wealthiest and most powerful bodies in the medieval world. Yet two centuries later, they were arrested, accused of blasphemy, heresy and orgies, and their leaders were burnt at the stake. Part guide, part history, this book investigates the Templar legends and legacy - from the mysteries of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, via nineteenth century development of the Freemasons, through to Templar appearances in Dan Brown and Indiana Jones. This book explains the whole context of Templar history, including the recent evidence discovered by the Vatican that the Templars were not guilty of heresy. It also features a guide to Templar castles and sites.
This is an intriguing collection of archival photographs that reveals the forgotten heart of a great cosmopolitan city.Using vintage photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, many of them from private family albums, this book brings to life the world of that vanished Alexandria, a vibrant, stylish, and cosmopolitan city, the largest port in the Mediterranean, that was the prosperous gateway between Egypt and the world. Seen here in the setting of their homes and gardens, and on the city's streets and beaches, the faces of those forgotten Alexandrians come to life: the Greeks, Italians, Jews, and all those others from around the Mediterranean whose energy and expertise helped modernize and develop Egypt, and who planted their family roots in the city.This was the luxuriant and evocative city celebrated by Constantine Cavafy, E.M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell, and they too are included in these pages along with photographs of scenes and people that were familiar to them. Vintage Alexandria traces the development and growth of the city, follows its story through the dramatic events of two world wars, and above all provides a background to the city's place in twentieth-century cultural history, through the eyes of Alexandria's cosmopolitan citizens themselves.
Cairo is an exploding modern metropolis of eighteen million people that nevertheless preserves within its heart the finest medieval city in the world, its alleys, mosques, and caravanserais the original setting for the Arabian Nights, whose atmosphere is palpable still for the visitor wandering through its bazaars, while at sunset the Pyramids glow gold against the Western Desert as they have done for one million seven hundred thousand evenings past. The monuments of pharaohs and sultans lie within the city's reach, making Cairo and its environs an unequaled storehouse of human achievement. In this guide to the largest city in Africa and the political and cultural fulcrum of the Arab world, Michael Haag explores Cairo's past and present in word and picture, from Saqqara to the Citadel of Saladin, from the ancient synagogue and churches of Old Cairo to the skyscrapers along the Nile, from Khan al-Khalili, the vast bazaar as intricate as inlay work, to the Epoque facades of the downtown streets, and introduces you to the treasures of three great civilizations at the Islamic, Coptic, and Egyptian Antiquities museums. Beautifully illustrated with 150 color photographs, this is a fascinating armchair tour of Cairo in all its variety.
Alexandria has had a checkered history since its foundation by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. From its glorious days as the intellectual center of the Hellenistic and early Christian world, it declined into a near-forgotten backwater with a population of only a few thousand at the time of the French invasion of 1798. Renewed prosperity and commercial growth came in the nineteenth century under Muhammad'All. Today it is Egypt's second city and the favorite summer resort of millions of Egyptians. In this guide to one of the world's great cities, Michael Haag explores Alexandria's past and present in word and picture, from the ancient Pharos to the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, from Anfushi to Montazah. He directs our curiosity not only toward the ancient monuments of the city and its fine Greco-Roman Museum and new National Museum, but also to the ambience of a more modern era, that cosmopolitan Alexandria alive with the literary echoes of Cavafy, Forster, and Durrell. Beautifully illustrated with 125 color photographs, this is a fascinating armchair tour of the pageant that is Alexandria.