Louis Sarno


hbk: Houghton Miflin, (Boston, Massachusetts) US, 1993,,, Bantam, (London) UK, March 1993
pbk: Penguin, (New York) US, 1994,,, Corgi, (London) UK, 1994

ISBN 0-593-01864-8 (UK hbk),,, 0-552-13564-X (UK pbk)

non-fiction, autobiographical, pygmies, bayaka, BaBenzélé, culture, music, rainforest, hunter-gatherer, tribal society, anarchy, travel, africa

Book Cover An account of life among a true working example of an anarchist society. These are the longest-surviving hunter-gatherer peoples on this planet. Louis's tale is told from his own experiencial point of view -- a point of view which undergoes many different perspectives. This book has been translated into German, Italian, and Dutch editions.

"When Louis Sarno switched on the radio on his arrival in Amsterdam in 1980, he was entranced by a uniquely beautiful piece of vocal music and fell hopelessly in love. It was this love that led him first to listen to hundreds of hours of ethnic music in pursuit of its source, and then to travel to the distant shores of Africa and into the ancient rainforests of the Central African Republic, to seek out its creators.

"They proved to be pygmies, a people legendary for their short stature and melodic wealth. Documented by Homer, and by Pharaonic Egyptians as long ago as 2500 BC, the pygmies Sarno expected to find were a noble people, at one with nature, indulging in meaningful music every minute of the day. Instead, to his intense disappointment, the Ba-Benjellé pygmies he was staying with seemed to be a lazy, scrounging group, with no desire to hunt or sing, surviving exclusively on tadpoles. Only when he had lived with them for some time was he allowed to see that this unsavoury veneer was in reality covering a culture of extraordinary beauty and spiritual sophistication, music being of supreme importance to the Ba-Benjellé's lives and the principal means by which they communicated with the rainforest and its spirits. From then on, Sarno became inextricably involved in their lives, attempting, as he did, to record their music for posterity, often with hilarious consequences. At the same time, he sought to protect their fragile existence from an increasingly destructive world. Permanently changed by his experience and captivated by a beautiful pygmy girl, making his home there was a very easy decision.

"Song from the Forest is a classic romantic adventure, revealing the way Louis Sarno's musical quest drove him into the heart and soul of a people. Rich with cultural, environmental and human interest, it is a compelling and entertaining read which will have a definitive place in the documentation of a vanishing world. The pygmies and their music remain in the mind long after the last page is turned." [jacket blurb, UK hbk, 1993]

"Hoping to release a compilation of his recordings, we helped Louis Sarno make his second journey to the Huri Rainforest. This book documents an amazing emotional and cultural adventure... File under anthropology, travel, adventure, romance, ethnomusicology and culture studies." --Brian Eno.

"Louis Sarno's book is a very personal tale full of warmth, humor, and insight." --Henry W.Targowski (in Mark/Space , 1995).

Highly recommended.

For more information (prices and ordering) see:

*note: We will be featuring an exhibition of Louis Sarno's photographs from the Sangha/Ndoki rainforest in our galleries section.

Additional Links

For info on African music:

Of Related Interest

  • Anarchy
  • CyberCulture
  • Environment / Ecology / Nature
  • Music
  • Pygmies
  • Rainforest
  • Slipstream
  • World Issues

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