“In 587 a.d., two monks set off on an extraordinary journey that would take them in an arc across the entire Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. On the way John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist stayed in caves, monasteries, and remote hermitages, collecting the wisdom of the stylites and the desert fathers before their fragile world finally shattered under the great eruption of Islam. More than a thousand years later, using Moschos’s writings as his guide, William Dalrymple sets off to retrace their footsteps and composes “an evensong for a dying civilization” –“Kirkus Reviews,” starred review” – NoveList Plus
The reading group discussed some questions:
- Is this a subject area you knew anything about before? If so, were you surprised by any facts introduced in this book? If not, were you surprised by how interested you were in it?
Some not surprised
Loved the history, the Byzantine art, history of relation
Amazed at the bravery
Only read small amount but loved, enjoyed it. Would love to finish
Could not put it down
Always interested in Ottomans
Saw it as a history book
Most seemed to have only part/only differ write it
Not surprised at how interesting it was
Some had no idea about Byzantine and Ottomans
- Has the book changed your opinion of a particular topic or certain person?
So many levels the unchanging ethos and tradition of theByzantineMountainsdespite so few monks
Islam will not go back to a state of balance
Increased appreciation of places, times and people
Syriahas been respectful of different religions even in the 6th century
Favoured the Palestinians
Humans don’t learn from history
- How do you think the author treated the subject? Was the material presented in an interesting and thought-provoking way? How did the author achieve this?
Great research, easy to visualise places, people and events, Combined static with dynamic.
Style is – rather Monty Python
Easy reading, smooth – brilliantly segued from one time to time, place to place
The stories about the tribal conflicts within groups e.g. Ultra orthodox Jews
The 6th century and 20th century – beautiful connections made.
1994 issues seem to be contemporary in 2012
- If the book is about a controversial topic, do you think the author gave a fair and balanced account of the subject? Did they consider all sides to the debate? Or were they particularly biased?
Controversial – dealt with controversial matters – fairly in most cases –perhaps leads us to find out more, seek more information about the meaning ,causes, implication of past and current events.