Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar

Emily Ruete, Author, Markus W. Wiener, Translator, Patricia W. Romero, Designed by M. Wiener Pub. $18.95 (298p) ISBN 978-1-55876-007-3
Ruete could be the subject of a thrilling romance. As Romero ( Life Histories of African Women ) explains, she was born in 1840 as Salme, princess of Oman and Zanzibar, and grew up privy to the machinations of her father's harem and of her scores of siblings. Following her father the sultan's death in 1856, Salme participated in one brother's unsuccessful coup to wrest the throne from another. Despite strictures confining Islamic women, she trysted with a German who is thought to have impregnated her, fled to Germany where she converted to Christianity, changed her name, married her lover, bore three children and was soon widowed. Ruete relates few of these escapades; instead she provides a disingenuous account of harmonious life at the palace. Despite the profusion of concubines, Ruete claims that Arabs predominantly practice monogamy; her father is a beneficent king--although Romero states that he attained power by murdering a cousin. The disparity between introduction and text, the latter translated from the German, generates a peculiarly successful tension, enhanced by carefully recorded details of court life. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Paperback - 257 pages - 978-0-486-47121-1
Ebook - 234 pages - 978-0-486-11747-8
Paperback - 118 pages - 978-1-5430-4203-0
Paperback - 118 pages - 978-1-365-75940-6
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