cover image The Passionate Nomad: The Diary of Isabelle Eberhardt

The Passionate Nomad: The Diary of Isabelle Eberhardt

Isabelle Eberhardt, Author Beacon Press (MA) $0 (116p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7103-8

Eberhardt, the 19th century traveler so vividly evoked in Lesley Blanch's The Wilder Shores of Love, here speaks through her own journals and diaries. Born into a middle-class Swiss family, she moved to Algeria in her early 20s and spent her remaining few years (she died in a flash flood at the age of 28) wandering through North Africa disguised as Si Mahmoud, a male itinerant Sufi. Though her commitment to Islam was profound, she was an active supporter of French rule and may have acted as an agent of the French intelligence services. Eberhardt's sexual adventures, experimentation with drugs and bedouin spirit have led many observers to see her as presaging the youth of the 1960s. This absorbing piece of exotica, ably edited and translated, opens with an introduction that is scholarly yet accessible. Notes have been added to the sparse text and particular attention is paid to accurately reproducing foreign words and faithfully translating alien cultural concepts. The jumbled order of the original diary has been retained, giving the work the texture of a modern novel. (June)