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.
August 31, 2015
On the Narrow Road: Journey into a Lost Japan
By Lesley Downer
Summit Books, 1989, 280 pp.
In travel literature there is a strong tradition of writers following in the footsteps of earlier travelers: to try see what they saw, to in some sense share their experience, perhaps to see what has changed. In On the Narrow Path: Journey to a Lost Japan, Lesley Downer enters this tradition, following the path of the great Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, who in 1689 set off on a 5-month, 800 mile journey to the “wild north” of Japan and in 1693 published The Narrow Path to the Deep North, a book studied and loved throughout Japan.
Basho’s purpose, Downer says, was poetic: he wanted to visit places that had inspired poets in the past. His journey was also “a pilgrimage to the places associated with Yoshitsune, the greatest and most loved of Japanese heroes.” Traveling nearly 300 years later, Downer’s own aims were to see if the old “wild” north—said to have disappeared—could still be found, and also to get close to Basho himself. (more…)
August 13, 2015
“But we are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world.”
―Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes
"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.
“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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