My aim on TraveLit is to introduce readers who share my love of travel literature to good books they may not know about. Mostly classics, some new, the books cover travel in its many forms, from exploration to tourism. Along with reviews, TraveLit also brings together provocative, entertaining travel quotations and reader recommendations. I welcome comments on the readings, the reviews, the quotations, or the fascinating enterprise of travel itself.

TraveLit--A blog about travel literature

Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Book Review

January 30, 2014

Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal
By J. R. Ackerley. Introduction by Eliot Weinberger. First published in 1932. New York Review of Books Classics, 2000, 320 pp.

As a fan of My Dog Tulip, J. R Ackerley’s offbeat account of his relationship with his German Shepherd Queenie, I’m not sure why I’ve come so late to Hindoo Holiday. First published in 1932, this delightful book chronicles the author's months in India as private secretary to the eccentric, insecure, indecisive, and endearing Maharajah of Chhatarpur , or Chhokrapur, as the Indian state is called in the book.

In his excellent introduction, Eliot Weinberger describes the circumstances that drew Ackerley to India in 1923 at the age of 27. He had fought in WWI, returned to attend Cambridge, published some poems, and written a play. But finding no producer for the play, with its “implicit homoeroticism,” he was “adrift,” and took up his friend E. M. Forster’s suggestion to seek the post with the Maharajah, who, like Ackerley, was gay. Hindoo Holiday itself is explicitly homoerotic and the text was cut when the book first appeared. Indeed, this is the first unexpurgated edition to be published in the West. (more…)

Books you might like: Reader recommendations

January 15, 2014

Ginna Vogt, who has written a memoir about living in Yemen, recommends Yemen: The Unknown Arabia, by Tim Mackintosh-Smith. "It is a lovely book," she says, "and is intriguing even for people with no particular interest in Yemen." A flaw of the book, she notes, is that the author "writes about the place as if it is a complete account of the country, even though women are completely absent from the story."

Nonetheless, "the book is clever and erudite, and made up of somewhat distinct chapters which cover specific regions or issues in some depth rather than being global and boring."

Travel Quotation

January 8, 2014

"In a sense, all travel writers are novelists, with themselves as heroes."
―Malise Ruthven, Traveler Through Time: Photographic Journey with Freya Stark

Selected Works

Travel Memoir
"Loved this book, which appears to be but is more than an account of an anthropological expedition, more than a travel book, more than a memoir."--Barbara Beckwith, author of What Was I Thinking?: Digging Deeper into Everyday Racism,
"It is undoubtedly the best written account of, and reflection on, fieldwork I have read, and --perhaps -- the best book on fieldwork (period) I have come across. --Joel Savishinsky, Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus), Ithaca College, author of Trail of the Hare.
“An impressively insightful, deftly written, accessibly articulate, expertly knowledgeable, and decidedly analytical survey of…book reviewing today.”
Midwest Book Review
“Captivating stories in an anthology of epistolary fiction from the last 50 years.”

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