Old Serpent Nile
Late one night in Rome, Stanley Stewart found himself by Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, beneath the figure that represents the Nile. Its head was enveloped in a veil – an allusion to the fact that the sources of the Nile were then unknown. Seduced by this image of concealment and expectation, he resolved to travel the length of the Nile from mouth to source, from the moment of promise to the moment of revelation.
His journey, from the Nile Delta to the Mountains of the Moon, was arduous, colourful, funny and horrifying and sometimes wildly dangerous. Whether on a pilgrimage to desert monasteries, aboard a felucca sailing to the splendours of ancient Egypt, crossing the Nubian desert, meeting the victims of famine in Sudan or narrowly escaping the attentions of the Ugandan army, Stewart tells his story with warmth, wit and understanding.
At the heart of this book is the great river itself, constant, incredible, beguiling, the source of life and death to the millions along its banks. Evocative and compelling, Old Serpent Nile is in the finest tradition of travel writing.
‘Immensely well-written… as intriguing and changeable as the Nile.’ ‘Understated, elegantly written and impressive’
The Sunday Times The New Statesman
‘a notable achievement.’ ‘Stewart writes like a cross between Eric Newby and Bruce Chatwin.’
William Golding, the Guardian The Daily Telegraph