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Splendid assemblage of cuttings, necessarily exotic and often bizarre, from the works and travels of more than 300 writers, from antiquity to the present. These are mostly travel writers, though some are simply well-travelled, such as photographer Cecil Beaten, who describes a night with The Rolling Stones in Marrakesh in 1967. The book is divided into sections of the globe: Africa, Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, Near, Middle and Far East, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, and the Arctic and the Antarctic. Once again we are with Henry Morton Stanley as he greets Dr. Livingston in darkest Africa. Flaubert shows us the unveiled dancers of Egypt, Thackeray his hardships with Arab guides on the top of a pyramid, Edith Wharton the souks of Marrakesh, Colette a Moroccan luncheon. Evelyn Waugh describes Port Said in 1929 and Graham Greene wipes his brow in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the mid-1930's. Hannibal and Cellini, Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding, Madame de Sevigne and Rose Macaulay, Mark Twain and D.H. Lawrence, V.S. Pritchett and Cyril Connolly take us about Europe. Henry James gives us some English pastels (""The day was exceptionally beautiful; the charming sky was spotted over with little idle-looking, loafing, irresponsible clouds; the Epsom Downs went swelling away as greenly as in a coloured sporting-print, and the wooded uplands, in the middle distance, looked as innocent and pastoral as if they had never seen a policeman or rowdy""). though throughout this volume perfumed description takes second seat to the stink of incident. Marco Polo, T.E. Lawrence and Alexander the Great lead us through the Asias, Fanny Kemble trips up Broadway in 1832, Thoreau makes camp in the Maine Woods in 1857, Henry Miller takes us to a Hollywood soiree, and Jack Kerouac is back on the road with Dean Moriarty. Enthralling, not a dreary word from start to finish.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking