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Arabia Felix


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A riveting account of a landmark expedition that left only one survivor, now back in print for the first time in decades. Will appeal to fans of adventure stories, biographies of explorers, and the history of expedition.

About the Author

Thorkild Hansen (1927-1989), a novelist best known for his Slave Trilogy, was an avid traveller and travel writer. James McFarlane (1920-1999) was a translator and scholar of European literature, who taught at King's College before being apppointed Chair of European Literature at the University of East Anglia. Kathleen McFarlane (1922-2008) was a translator of Norwegian literature and a celebrated weaver. Colin Thubron is the president of the Royal Society of Literature. Among his books are Shadow of the Silk Road and To a Mountain in Tibet.


"This tale of an 18th century scientific expedition gone awry (first published in Danish in 1962 and back out in a new English edition) is a brutal, beautiful story of human ideals - and all the clever ways we manage to muck them up. Part history, part fiction, part travelogue, this book balances its central tragedy with some winks and smirks. And yes, it's true: Before long, I found those pages practically turned themselves." --Colin Dwyer, NPR Book Concierge, "2017's Great Reads"

"First and foremost, Arabia Felix is just a terrific story: riveting, hilarious, exquisitely written and translated. Beyond that, however, it draws a rich and dynamic group portrait of a collection of philosopher-scientist-explorers at the very dawn of the modern era." --Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction "The material that Thorkild Hansen has gathered for this book is as dramatic and colorful as anything....Arabia Felix is a first-class job.... Hansen has rescued from oblivion a fine story of adventure, discovery, death and endurance.... He has written a shrewd study of human character under severe stress." --Orville Prescott, The New York Times "An epic voyage...unflaggingly readable and interesting." --Don Moraes, The Spectator

"A blend of historical chronicle and biography...Hansen's absorbing chronicle of this expedition and its complicated background dramas is a splendid narrative told with literary distinction." --Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal "Thorkild Hansen...has written this so well that the reader is caught up in the problems of the expedition and travels with them slowly, sometimes dangerously as well as painfully.... This book reaffirms one's faith in the ability of the human being as an observer with minimum equipment...fascinating to the general reader." --Lorrin Kennamer, Austin American-Statesman "A scholarly and exciting admirable writer, whose narrative energies [are] clear and dynamic...he tells it simply and well. Arabia Felix must appeal to anyone who enjoys reading of adventure and exploration." --Michael Adams, The Guardian

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