The book is divided into three sections: "Breviary," "Maps," and "Glossary." "Breviary" catalogs the sights, smells, sounds, and features common to the many peoples who share the MediterraneanÃ¢ÂÂJews, Arabs, Copts, Berbers, Turks, Syrians, Greeks, Romans (and Italians), Spaniards (and Catalonians), the French, Dalmatians, Albanians, Bulgarians, Romanians, even Russians. "Maps" retraces the same itinerary through documents up to the seventeenth century that represent the Mediterranean; "Glossary" deals with linguistic diversity and history. The brilliant variety of details and the verve with which they are conveyed will appeal to active and armchair travelers alike.
With this portrait of a place and its civilizations, Matvejevic joins a cohort of writers that includes Claudio Magris (Danube), Angelo Maria Ripellino (Magic Prague), and Neal Ascherson (Black Sea)Ã¢ÂÂauthors who have created a literary genre all their own, at once personal and objective, imaginative and erudite. Although, as Matvejevic says, "we do not discover the sea ourselves, nor do we view it exclusively through our own eyes," this Mediterranean is joyously his, and it becomes ours as well.
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