Connected Histories

Discussion points for Leo Africanus

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Giancarlo Casale suggests questions and topics to encourage and guide group discussion.


Leo Africanus

What do you think about the opening paragraph of Leo Africanus?  In what ways does this particular statement of identity—or perhaps “anti-identity”—inform the rest of the book? How does it relate to the overall theme of “Connected Histories”?

In writing this book, to what extent do you think Amin Maalouf was inspired by history, and to what extent was he constrained by it? In what way is this type of book  – a novel written in the form of an autobiography of a real person – different from a novel about a purely fictional character, or a from a work of history? To what extent does the author of such a book have a responsibility to “keep to the facts”?

How do you feel about the way female characters are represented in the book? What role do they play in the construction of Leo’s identity? How do Maalouf’s decisions about the way they appear in the narrative relate to the earlier question about historical accuracy?

The choice between baptism and exile—or between baptism and slavery—is a recurrent theme in Leo Africanus.  How do different people deal with this choice, and what are the consequences of their decisions?

As presented by Maalouf, what are the roles of fate and free will in Leo’s life? How do fate and free will relate to the larger themes of the book?

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #276: Discussion points for Leo Africanus", March 21, 2018