Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties

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Profile Books, Apr 14, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 239 pages
In the summer of 1964, while a military coup was taking place and tanks were rolling through the streets of Algiers, Robert Irwin set off for Algeria in search of Sufi enlightenment. There he entered a world of marvels and ecstasy, converted to Islam and received an initiation as a faqir. He learnt the rituals of Islam in North Africa and he studied Arabic in London. He also pursued more esoteric topics under a holy fool possessed of telepathic powers. A series of meditations on the nature of mystical experience run through this memoir. But political violence, torture, rock music, drugs, nightmares, Oxbridge intellectuals and first love and its loss are all part of this strange story from the 1960s.

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User Review  - jrcovey - LibraryThing

Let’s concede at the outset that Robert Irwin’s account of his own life is nowhere near as compelling as is his slam-bang historical tour of Orientalist scholarship, For Lust of Knowing. Still, though ... Read full review

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User Review  - reverend_allaby - LibraryThing

As the memoirs are collected the tone becomes darker, materialising into a reflection that seems painful for Mister Irwin to behold. Nuggets of interest are scattered through out but ultimately this ... Read full review


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About the author (2011)

Robert Irwin is one of the best known writers on the history and culture of the Islamic world (The Arabian Nights: A Companion; The Alhambra and most recently For Lust of Knowing: the Orientalists and their Enemies). He is also an acclaimed novelist (Arabian Nightmare) and is Middle East editor of The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London.

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