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Penguin Travel Library and other literary travel books

Extollager

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could probably put Thoreau in there as well. Does Walden count as travel lit?
I personally wouldn't say it does, but am sure that Thoreau is a notable travel writer on the basis of other things I've read by him, such as The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, A Yankee in Canada, etc. The oldest form of travel is walking, and Thoreau's a great contributor to the literature thereof.

Someone should take the letters that C. S. Lewis wrote about his walking tours and publish them in a book, perhaps with pictures or photos. He's really very good in this genre.
 

Extollager

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Bick and Hitmouse, I have you to thank for the Travels with Charley recommendation. I'm halfway through it and it's been good to be reading it on this Independence Day; good to be keeping July 4th this way.
 

Extollager

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Finished Travels with Charley. I suspect the chapter towards the end in which he picks up, one after the other, three people to whom he talks about racial bigotry in Louisiana is somewhat fictionalized; and throughout the book I got a bit of a feeling that he thinks he's quite a good guy. But mostly I enjoyed it quite a lot.
 

Extollager

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Today received Edward Hoagland's entry in the Penguin Travel Library, a book about the Sudan called African Calliope.

This author seems to have written lots of essays and books, but this might be the first thing I have ever read by him.
 

Extollager

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A box of books sent by a friend included Knut Hamsun's In Wonderland, which appears to be a highly subjective book about his journey mostly in the Caucasus.

Here's the cover of what I take to be a Norwegian edition:

I've relished several of Hamsun's novels and I like good travel writing, so this could be a treat. I think the word eventyr refers to fairy-tales. I probably love the Norwegian ones even more than the Grimms', so that has me curious about Hamsun's book.
 

Bick

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Finished Travels with Charley. I suspect the chapter towards the end in which he picks up, one after the other, three people to whom he talks about racial bigotry in Louisiana is somewhat fictionalized; and throughout the book I got a bit of a feeling that he thinks he's quite a good guy. But mostly I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I agree about the end, but overall I think it's a peach of a travel book.
 

Extollager

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A personal favourite is Following the Equator by Mark Twain; a clever and very funny writer.
Maybe you were the writer who recommended Twain's Roughing It? Someone did so, although I guess not here on the travel books thread. Anyway, my thanks to whoever pointed it out; I'm now reading it with much enjoyment. I'm reading a library copy of a Library of America edition that contains it plus The Innocents Abroad, but here is a link to a paperback edition with reviews.

Roughing It (Signet Classics): Mark Twain, Elizabeth Frank: 9780451531100: Amazon.com: Books
 

hitmouse

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Kiwi Tracks Andrew Stevenson

Before the turn of the millennium Lonely Planet published a series of travel books (apart from their guides.) This is the only one I have read. Pretty good. The author had become depressed by the long dark winters in Scandinavia, and had broken up with his ?Norwegian girlfriend. In this book he walks a number of National trails in New Zealand. This is a good book about walking, with the author lookng for catharsis.

I read this in about 1999, and a year later went on an extended walking tour of NZ myself, doing a couple of the paths described herein: Kepler and Routeburn.

 

Extollager

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Knut Hamsun (Mysteries, Pan, Hunger, Victoria...) wrote a travel book about a journey to the Caucasus, translated a few years ago as In Wonderland. I'm near completion of this short, entertaining book. He evokes the landscapes and sketches cities and towns (Moscow, which thrills him; Tiflis; Baku, etc.), up-close things (melons, hollyhocks...), delays, cheats, dust, bedbugs; Hamsun occasionally indulges in humorous fantasies that are still amusing; he fusses about a spot of wax on his coat, participates in a horsemeat feast, tries to provoke an Englishman, whose taciturnity irritates him; pities several animals that he sees mistreated along the way; ponders the fatalism of Muslims; successfully deceives a bureaucrat with a passport and a visiting card that don't match; opines about Russian authors (he admires Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, et al.) -- the world's greatest literary giants; and more. He rides by train, horse-drawn carriage (over mountain roads), walks, etc. I liked knowing that he had Sibelius's card since Sibelius is my favorite modern composer. He's followed by a con man who tries to pass himself off as a Russian spy assigned to monitor him and who assures him of favorable treatment for a monetary consideration, that sort of thing. This book, translated by Sverre Lyngstad, would have been a worthy entry in the Penguin Travel Library. What I have is an advance copy from Ig Publishing from 2004.
 

hitmouse

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I am looking forward to the publication of this later on this week:



which is the posthumous conclusion of a trilogy starting with A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, both published years ago. This is the narrative of a walk from Holland to Constantinople, made by Leigh Fermor in the mid 1930s when he was about 18, not much good at school (although he clearly had a first-class knowledge of classics, modern languages, and history.) Luminous prose about a world which is now completely disappeared.

Nice review here:
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos by Patrick Leigh Fermor
 

hitmouse

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The Log from the Sea of Cortez John Steinbeck (1951)



just finished this, in the above edition, retrieved from a charity bin for pennies.

This is a book in 2 parts. The first part is an account of Steinbeck's friend Ed Ricketts, who owned a commercial marine biology lab in Cannery Row, and who was killed in the 1950s when a train hit his car.

The second part is an account of an expedition in 1940 to the Gulf of California to collect marine specimens.

An interesting and good read. For the expedition, a fishing boat was hired from San Diego along with the crew. The account talks about the landscape, the crew, and the collecting, and the profound experience that the journey, to what was then a very remote place, had on everyone. There are quite detailed biological notes included in the narrative, which is also very funny in places.
Unusual, and recommended.
 

Extollager

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Thank you for the tip. I'm not sure I'd ever heard of that book.

At the moment am reading Booth's The Roads to Sata, a walk the length of the islands of Japan that was recommended to me by a gaijin who lived in Japan for a while.
 

Extollager

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Since posting #113 above, I've read William Dalrymple's From the Holy Mountain, a travel book not in the Penguin Travel Library. Dalrymple encounters representatives of the dwindling Christian communities, especially monastic, in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc. In many places they are liable to be attacked, even killed, and their holy sites taken from them and demolished or used for other purposes, etc. It seems to be creeping into the media that Christianity is the world's most persecuted religion, but when you see news items on the topic you are likely to see comments that boil down to "They have it coming."

I also read Eric Newby's The Great Red Train Ride, a PTL selection, enjoyable if not quite as appealing to me as A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, Slowly Down the Ganges, and Love and War in the Apennines.

Current travel book is Negley Farson's Caucasian Journey, a Penguin Travel Library selection, about a journey by river (about 2000 miles) from Moscow to the place from which the author and his friend will trek by horseback and by foot in the Caucasus Mountains in 1929, before Soviet repression was at its most ferocious and a journey like theirs would have been impossible.
 

Extollager

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That Farson book

was a good read! I am cutting back on my book buying, otherwise I would probably order now his Way of a Transgressor:

As it is, I turn instead to stock on hand, Alexander Lenard's The Valley of the Latin Bear for my next travel book, although in this case it seems to be about someone who settled (in a remote Brazilian village; but he started out in in Hungary, got displaced, etc.).

This was recommended by Dainis Bisenieks, veteran fantasy and sf fan.
 

hitmouse

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Read the first 40 pages then got distracted by other things. will start it again in due course. Really need some warm sunny afternoons in the South of France for this kind of book.
 

Extollager

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I've returned to Robert Louis Stevenson lately, for his own sake and in connection with a thread on authors in Arthur Machen's background:

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/547803-literary-forbears-of-arthur-machen.html

Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is a classic of travel writing, and I'm enjoying it and commenting on it at the Machen thread. Side by side with it, I'm rereading Richard Holmes's chapter on following Stevenson's route, in his Footsteps, which I reviewed many years ago when it was a recent book! Neither the Stevenson nor the Holmes was in the Penguin Travel Library, so far as I know.
 

Extollager

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I'm now well into Robert Louis Stevenson's Amateur Emigrant -- just began the second part, Across the Plains. He is not completely forthcoming, but it seems he arrived in New York City with a case of lice...

I'm reading this book in the 1966 From Scotland to Silverado edition that restores a lot of text that was cut as being indelicate.
 

hitmouse

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I've returned to Robert Louis Stevenson lately, for his own sake and in connection with a thread on authors in Arthur Machen's background:

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/547803-literary-forbears-of-arthur-machen.html

Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is a classic of travel writing, and I'm enjoying it and commenting on it at the Machen thread. Side by side with it, I'm rereading Richard Holmes's chapter on following Stevenson's route, in his Footsteps, which I reviewed many years ago when it was a recent book! Neither the Stevenson nor the Holmes was in the Penguin Travel Library, so far as I know.

Some good friends of mine are walking a portion of Stevenson's route this Summer along the Grande Route 70:
http://www.gr-infos.com/gr70a.htm
 
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