Category Archives: Travel

Walking the Woods and the Water by Nick Hunt

I began to read travel literature when the peripatetic period of my late teens and twenties came to an end. Patrick Leigh Fermor, Dervla Murphy and Wilfred Thesiger offered some relief for the yearning for adventure and wild places that … Continue reading

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Digressive Interior Journeys

It isn’t often that a writer’s voice and concerns register deep enough that I end up scouring second-hand sources for first editions of their work. Jenny Diski becomes the thirty-first writer housed in that hallowed subsection of my library reserved for … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Natural History, Psychology, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Duality of Silence

In The World of Silence, Max Picard quotes Goutran de Procius’s Kablina, where he sums up so lucidly the duality of silence, that tension between rapture and fear familiar to anyone that chooses to spend long periods of immersion in silence. Here in … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Literature in Translation, Poetry, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hannah Arendt’s Thesis

[Hannah Arendt’s] thesis that Nazism and Communism were of the same stock has been well remembered. However, many forget that she also held the “terrible massacres” and “wild murdering” of European imperialists responsible for the “triumphant introduction of such means … Continue reading

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Need Need Need

Below is an extended quotation from Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Spring. The book is a beautifully written, lovingly researched, fascinating account of why writers drink. It is one of those discursive, genre-busting books that I enjoy so much. … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Diaries and Journals, Literary Criticism, Poetry, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 (+2) Books About Deserts

[UPDATE (January 2014): Added numbers 11 and 12 to this list – the posts at Seraillon are so good I thought it important to link to them from this list. Incidentally, the Comments to this post also revealed some first-rate … Continue reading

Posted in The Joy of Lists, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Desert Enchantment

  ‘The more light the desert receives, the darker it seems to become,’ writes Eugène Fromentin. Desert romanticism exists in that kind of paradox. Otherwise one must ask what a romantic is doing in the desert at all. The desert … Continue reading

Posted in Literature in Translation, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Hourglass Sand of Rub’ al Khali

There is but one word in Arabic for sand رمل (raml). The sand in the Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter could be defined with greater precision as raml as-sa’ah ramliyyah or hourglass sand. I have spent the last week photographing sand. … Continue reading

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Duncan Fallowell’s How to Disappear

Assembling even a small collection of essays is a performance. A single essay may sparkle with brilliance and wit-particularly dangerous if the first in a collection-but a collection risks being abased by its weakest part. A coherent collection that manages … Continue reading

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The Possessed by Elif Batuman

Tolstoy liked Chekhov on first meeting, saying, “He is full of talent and undoubtedly has a very good heart.” That the sentiment applies equally to Elif Batuman is the concluding impression on finishing The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the … Continue reading

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