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The Names of Things Hardcover – June 2, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Susan Brind Morrow's lyric prose wades the deep waters of life, death, and the meanings of words. Her narrative evokes the smell of raw, wet earth from her Finger Lakes childhood, the red rock of the Egyptian desert she travels, dead Greek words she studied "like shards of some wonderful glass," and fluid Arabic where "a name is a mirror to catch the soul of a thing, and a pun is the corner of its garment." Seeking desert solace for her siblings' deaths, Brind adventures through Egypt's Red Sea Hills and Sudan's wadis, studying the birth of language amid its natural, living origins.

From Library Journal

From a lifetime of combining the study of nature and a fascination with language emerges the beautiful story of Morrow's journey?both physical and spiritual?from her childhood in rural New York to the magnificent deserts of Egypt and Sudan. Memories interlace and enrich this lean yet richly descriptive narrative, particularly the unexpected tragedies of her brother's and sister's deaths. After studies of Arabic and Egyptian hieroglyphs at Barnard College, leading to her first archaeological survey in Egypt in 1980, Morrow traveled extensively in the Middle East and Africa, living with nomadic tribes, courting adventure, and recording her experiences in a mixture of prose, Linnaean descriptions, and etymological pleasures. But more than simply a diarist, Morrow becomes a part of her desert milieu, in a region where women have had little freedom. This work imparts a quality not unlike the writing of Isak Dineson or Jane Goodall. Highly recommended.?Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Printing edition (June 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573220272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573220279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It certainly is refreshing to read how a truly educated and enlightened woman can insinuate herself into what has to be some pretty stressful situations. The Names of Things is as close to poetry as prose can get. Susan Brind-Morrow takes the reader on a wild cultural carousel through Egypt and its surroundings, brought on by professional necessity. This is not the tourist's travelogue, so be prepared to confront an astounding array of societal paradoxes. An example is Brind-Morrow's perception of how Arab men treat her. Even though Arab women are treated like property, Arab men treated her with great hospitality, as though she were a man. Every page reeks of humanity, so much so that after reading it through once, I now take it down occasionally to relive a page or two at a time. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
Susan Brind Morrow has led a very interesting life. She's a graduate of Barnard College with a master's degree in classics from Columbia and for a short time was a fellow of the Creane-Rogers Foundation in Egypt and Sudan. Most of this book recounts her travels as a traveling archaeologist leading upto and around that period. Her prose is so lyrical that the book is more like reading poetry than anything else. So much so, that it's often difficult to keep a sense of where she is, who she's with, and what she's doing. The later is my only complaint, though to be honest it's not that anyone can capture in the lyrical sense what Susan Brind Morrow has in this very unique memoir.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read several charming books about Egypt recently, by Andre Aciman, Alhadeff, and Penelope Lively. This one is a beautifully written, haunting memoir by a woman whose encounters with an exotic world are delicately portrayed, with great empathy for landscape and its people.
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