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Edith Wharton

1920

by Edith Wharton

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Having begun my book with the statement that Morocco still lacks a guide-book, I should have wished to take a first step toward remedying that deficiency.

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LEAVING TANGIER

To step on board a steamer in a Spanish port, and three hours later to land in a country without a guide-book, is a sensation to rouse the hunger of the repletest sight-seer.

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VOLUBILIS

One day before sunrise we set out from Rabat for the ruins of Roman Volubilis.

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THE FIRST VISION

Many-walled Fez rose up before us out of the plain toward the end of the day.

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THE WAY THERE

There are countless Arab tales of evil Djinns who take the form of sandstorms and hot winds to overwhelm exhausted travellers.

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THE CROWD IN THE STREET

To occidental travellers the most vivid impression produced by a first contact with the Near East is the surprise of being in a country where the human element increases instead of diminishing the delight of the eye.

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It is not too much to say that General Lyautey has twice saved Morocco from destruction: once in 1912, when the inertia and double-dealing of Abd-el-Hafid abandoned the country to the rebellious tribes who had attacked him in Fez, and the second time in August, 1914, when Germany declared war on France.

[NOTE - In the chapters on Moroccan history and art I have tried to set down a slight and superficial outline of a large and confused subject. In extenuation of this summary attempt I hasten to explain that its chief merit is its lack of originality.

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M. H. Saladin, whose "Manual of Moslem Architecture" was published in 1907, ends his chapter on Morocco with the words: "It is especially urgent that we should know, and penetrate into, Morocco as soon as possible, in order to study its monuments. It is the only country but Persia where Moslem art actually survives; and the tradition handed down to the present day will doubtless clear up many things."

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