Leo Africanus

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Leo Africanus

(ăfrĭkā`nəs), c.1465–1550, Moorish traveler in Africa and the Middle East. His Arabic name was Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad. Captured by pirates, he was sent as a slave to Pope Leo X. He became a Christian, adopting the name Johannes Leo, and taught Arabic in Rome. There he wrote in Arabic a description of his journeys in Africa (issued in Italian in 1526), which was for many years the only known source on the Sudan. An English translation (1600) was reissued by the Hakluyt Society as The History and Description of Africa (3 vol., 1896, repr. 1963).


See biography by N. Z. Davis (2006).

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While Amin Maalouf wrote a fabulous account of Leo Africanus and his voyage around north Africa in the sixteenth century, the feature film has yet to be made (although Mauritanian auteur Abderrahmane Sissako has at least considered the project).
If identity is a central topic in his writings, then so is history: many of his novels, such as Leo Africanus , Samarkand , and Balthasar's Odyssey , have historical settings, involving both real and fictional characters.
Trickster Travels (2006) by Natalie Zemon Davis (Faber, 10 [pounds sterling]) Explores Muslim and Christian cultures through the extraordinary life of Hasan al-Wazzan--aka Leo Africanus
His works include The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Historical Essay), Leo Africanus (Novel) and Samarkand (Novel).
The collection spans nearly four centuries from Leo Africanus to Langston Hughes and spans geographically from Africa through Europe and the Caribbean to the United States.
But the phrase "intelletto umano" appears in just such a context in Giovanni Battista Ramusio's, Navigationi et Viaggi (1550-59), a translation in part of Leo Africanus.
Leo Africanus reinforced the association of Ham's sons with hypersexuality.
The evidence given for this deterioration is minimal: a "sarcastic letter" written to one muhtasib and a statement by Leo Africanus in his Description of Africa.
Ania Loomba stressed cultural hybridity and permeability rather than the psychological opposition of self and other, (31) and the writings and self-representations of hybrid figures like Leo Africanus, a North African convert to Christianity, were analyzed by Jonathan Burton, Bernadette Andrea, and Natalie Zemon Davis.
Natalie Zemon Davis's narrative of Leo Africanus [Trickster's Travels: A Sixteenth Century Muslim Between Worlds (New York, 2006)] is one excellent example.
11) Quotations from Leo Africanus are taken from Robert Brown's edition, The Historie and Description of Africa, trans.
Burton believes that Arabic and Ottoman (and in the case of Leo Africanus, Maghribi-Italian) portrayals and texts found their way onto the English stage and produced a Muslim who was not necessarily always polarized or demonized.