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

May 22, 2015

Journeys
By Stefan Zweig. Translated and with an Introduction by Will Stone. First published 1902-1940. Modern Voices, Hesperus, 2011, 109 pp.

“Stations and ports, these are my passion,” writes Stefan Zweig. “For hours I can stand there awaiting a fresh wave of travellers and goods noisily crashing in to cover the preceding one…Each station is different, each distils another distant land; every port, every ship brings a different cargo.”

Best known for his fiction and biographies, Zweig also wrote extensively about travel, which, observes Will Stone in his fine introduction to this book, was not merely important to the Austrian writer, but central to his being, “the fulcrum of his entire adult life.” This selection of his essays, arranged chronologically, moves from 1902, when the young author travels to immerse himself in the larger European literary and intellectual world, through the 20s, when he travels through a land recovering from the decimation of WWI, to 1940, and the onset of WWII. (more…)

Book Review

May 7, 2015

To a Mountain in Tibet
By Colin Thubron. HarperCollins, 2011, 227 pp.

Mt. Kailas, in Tibet, says Colin Thubron is “the most sacred of the world’s mountains—holy to one fifth of the earth’s people.” To believers, “the earthly Kailas is a ladder between light and darkness—its foundations are in hell—and a site of redemptive power.” Indeed, to Hindus, “‘departure for Kailas’ is a metaphor for death.”

Death is very much on the author’s mind as he makes his way through Nepal to join the many pilgrims who will circumambulate the mountain. Not long ago, his mother died, and he is now the last of his family; he lost his father earlier, and his sister was killed years ago, at 21,in an avalanche in the mountains of Switzerland. He is going to Mt. Kailas to mark their passage. He is also going because he is a traveler: travel is his profession, it is what he does. (more…)

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, barbarabeckwith.net.
***
"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.
Nonfiction
“An impressively insightful, deftly written, accessibly articulate, expertly knowledgeable, and decidedly analytical survey of…book reviewing today.”
Midwest Book Review
Anthology
“Captivating stories in an anthology of epistolary fiction from the last 50 years.”
Kirkus

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