REVIEW: The Seasons of Tulul ~ Egon Lass

Title: The Seasons of Tulul
Author: Egon Lass
Website of
Publisher: Xlibris
Publish Date: 2005
ISBN: 1-4134-7681-3
Length: Pages 289
Format: Print

The Seasons of Tulul is an anthropological and personal report by Egon Lass, a field archaeologist, who in the mid 70s recorded his experiences with Bedouins. The text builds impressionistically upon his interactions with a few Bedouin familes. What is troubling is the revealing of the ancient codes and tribalisms of the Bedouins which are sadly violent at times and regressive, at least in terms of women. Lass can erupt at his Bedouin friends while maintaining what is for me an overly objective stance, the attitude of the non-participant observer. At moments one wishes for Lass to reveal his personal feelings rather than his intellectual attitudes; for too many pages – the book could be edited down – one almost becomes drowsy by months, dates and years, with very little description of the environment or subjective states of the author. His prose is clean and lean, but his distancing and reportage is singularly monotonous at times. Lass needed to say less, say it better.

Revealing a reserve, and a good-natured sense of humor with his Bedouin friends, he also is diffident as well, which is an impassive stance, that of the recorder. Lass details an event, reveals its sociological aspects and mores, but often does not comment emotionally, and, perhaps, he feels this is his scientific task. The reader wants more of Lass at times, and less of his Bedouin friends.

However, in the desert with the Bedouins one wishes he had gone beyond goats, tents, tribal arguments and had described the desert environment as well, for it has a phenomenal hold on human beings. Ironically in the last pages of his book he comes alive, quotes a passage from T.E Lawrence and "indulges" in some overall observations about what he has experienced over the years with one particular Bedouin family. I remember reading St. Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars and being held enrapt by its mysticism and wonder at the desert world and its denizens without becoming mushy. If you are reading this book for a transcendent feeling, or to read a memorable passage, it is not here. It is a contemporary account of some more or less interesting Bedouins who, over time, reveal the ugliness, narrowness and other hues of the species; what is upsetting is that this universal smallness is endemic everywhere. Unfortunately, these Bedouins do not hold my attention.

One wonders if The Seasons of Tulul has been written more for the writer's need to conceptualize or to order his own life experiences, and he may have written a meditation that meets his personal requisites. The reader coming to this book will discover that the more he or she enters this world, the more it recedes because it does not grasp the heart or reveal the irregular beat of an unusual feeling. In reviewing the book I saw that pages from the book were published in The American Scholar. Yes, and appropriately so. It has the air of research to it.

Reviewer: Mathias B. Freese, author of The i Tetralogy

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