3 great 20th century travel writers

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3 great 20th century travel writers

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Muokkaaja: elokuu 1, 2008, 3:37am

For those of you in the UK, or those lucky enough to receive BBC Four programmes, there is an excellent 3 part series running at the moment on traveller & documentary maker Benedict Allen's 3 favourite British travel writers.

The first 2 episodes have run (but will hopefully be repeated). They featured Eric Newby in the first episode, and Laurie Lee in the second.

Next week the third and final episode features the greatest of all 20th century travel writers (in my view), Patrick Leigh Fermor.

It lead me to think who my 3 favourites would be.

PLF number 1 definitely, Eric Newby 2nd.

As Benedict chose Laurie Lee, who travelled but whom I think of as a writer/poet who happened to travel, rather than as a travel writer, I might be tempted to put Fitzroy Maclean as my number 3, for Eastern Approaches. Laurie Lee's books are brilliant as well. But then again there is Robert Byron to consider....

Does anyone else have a favourite 3 list?

elokuu 1, 2008, 4:48am

# zenomax

Please can you give me date and time of next week's Patrick Leigh Fermor episode? I don't want to miss it.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 1, 2008, 7:55am

Hi marieke - it is due to go out next Thursday at 9pm.

By the way, on BBC Four next Wednesday night at 9pm there is the final episode of the Thirties in Colour, a series of documentaries showcasing amateur colour film of the 1930s.

These 2 groups of programmes are part of the BBC Four 'Journeys of Discovery Season'.

I've just this minute looked at the BBC Four website, and Benedict Allen apparently tracks down and interviews Patrick Leigh Fermor in this episode. What more could one ask for?

elokuu 1, 2008, 8:36am

# zenomax

Thank you very much!!!

Leigh Fermor is a hero of mine, but it is also Laurie Lee and Tim Macintosh Smith about Ibn Battutah next week, I saw.

I have bookmarked this BBC four website.

elokuu 1, 2008, 9:40am

Oh, I would almost travel to England just to see Patrick Leigh Fermor! I hope the interviewer presses him to finish the book on the last leg of his trip across Europe to Constantinople.

elokuu 1, 2008, 3:51pm

Eric Newby
Patrick Leigh Fermor
Dervla Murphy

Hard to get just 3 though as I love Mackintosh-Smith, and Bill Bryson, and Paul Theroux... the list could go on forever...

elokuu 1, 2008, 5:01pm

Norman Lewis
Wilfred Thesiger
Paul Bowles
George Orwell
Graham Greene
Eric Newby

I just couldn't limit it to three but Norman Lewis above all.

elokuu 5, 2008, 3:55pm

Okay, best 4

Pico Iyer
Tim Mackintosh-Smith
Jonathan Raban
Colin Thubron

A While Ago
John Nicholl
Bruce Chatwin
Farley Mowat
Redmon in the Amazon and Borneo

The Dirty Thirties
Somerset Maugham in Burma, Nationalist China, and Spain
Graham Greene in W. Africa and Mexico
Peter Fleming in Brazil and Central Asia.
George Orwell in Paris, London and on the road to Wigan Pier

lokakuu 1, 2008, 7:01am

Patrick Leigh Fermor is tops for me
Then Nicolas Bouvier (you may not know him but L'Usage du Monde has been translated into English, The Way of the World; he was a fantastic travel writer)
and for the third, I can not make up my mind between all those mentioned above, with the addition of Jan Morris and the deduction of Bill Bryson, with whom I fail to be amused.

lokakuu 3, 2008, 12:00pm

#9, I have to agree with you about Jan Morris and Bryson.

Any Jan Morris book on Europe is worth making the effort to read.

Bill Bryson made a splash with his book on the english language which I really enjoyed, but his travel books don't cut a dash for me.

Maybe we should have added our most 'underwhelming' travel writers as well? (Paul Theroux at the top of my list).

Nicolas Bouvier sounds intersting - I'm going to do some digging - thanks for mentioning him.

lokakuu 4, 2008, 5:36am

I love Theroux' travel books but hate his novels... anyone else feel like that OR the other way round?

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 4, 2008, 5:56am

I agree with you re Theroux's novels, LyzzyBee. As for his travel books, well, I enjoyed some (Happy Islands of Oceania for example) but often he sounds like a grumpy old man (apparently it is irony mistaken for misanthropy, according to wikipedia).

lokakuu 4, 2008, 10:38am

Oh you see, I like the grumpiness! I'm a fairly grumpy traveller myself, maybe that's why!

lokakuu 4, 2008, 12:59pm

I'll take grumpy over stand-up comic.

537 Travel books and counting...

lokakuu 4, 2008, 3:28pm

Wow - impressive! I have http://www.librarything.com/catalog/LyzzyBee&tag=genre%2B-%2Btravel 157 but I don't think I've fully tagged all of those yet...

lokakuu 19, 2008, 10:56pm

Hello Everyone,

Many thanks for all your ideas of writers and books on travel. I unfortunately havent read enough of any one author to recommend them as my 'favourite'. I tend to dip in and out of travel books depending on my mood.

I have got some great ideas from you all and have ordered and tracked down a few books that look very interesting.

Cheers Alexandra

marraskuu 7, 2008, 6:16am

Jonathan Raban
John Steinbeck
Geert Mak
William Least Heat Moon

I'm sorry I have trouble counting to three...

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 2010, 5:10pm

Re: #10's comment ... 'Bill Bryson made a splash with his book on the english language which I really enjoyed, but his travel books don't cut a dash for me.'

Having just finished his book on Australia, I found the humor a bit too over-the-top at times (milked for comic effect).

huhtikuu 1, 2010, 4:09am

Seajack, I also found In a Sunburned Country to be disappointing.

huhtikuu 1, 2010, 9:43pm

Patrick Fermor; Lawrence Durrell; and, Freya Stark

huhtikuu 1, 2010, 11:03pm

I'll agree with including Tim Mackintosh-Smith and Eric Newby above (touchstones acting up!), as well as early Dervla Murphy - her later books I found overly political.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 2010, 6:21am

Mention of Freya Stark reminds me of a classification I have that splits apart travellers that write (Stark, Theisgier), and writers who travel (most of the rest of those mentioned here).

Each group gives something different - the travellers tend to have a more matter of fact style, the joy of reading them coming more from their adventures, privations, almost insane pursuit of their goal; while the writers give pleasure from their writing style and interpretation of events. The fact of travelling, for them, is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of producing a story.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 2010, 3:36pm

From my fairly limited reading, I think I'd have to go for Jan Morris and Jonathan Raban definitely, then one of Alexander Frater, Sara Wheeler or Robert Gibbings (all of whom I last read some time ago, so may have slightly misty eyed recollection).
But I haven't yet read a number of those listed above, including Fermor, Lewis, Byron, Stark and Thesiger - all on my to read shelf. Don't rate Bryson's travel at all (although like quite a bit of his other stuff), wasn't wowed by Newby (although my OH loves him) or Theroux, found Dervla Murphy a bit too political (again an OH favourite). Have only read one Dalrymple (loved).

No doubt in my mind who I'd include in my 'worst three' - Tim Moore stands head and shoulders, although one or two other individual books have been pretty dire (John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels, Bernard Levin's To The End of the Rhine, Ben Donald's Springtime for Germany and Roger Boyes's A Year in the Scheisse - Germany really does get a bad press)

huhtikuu 2, 2010, 6:46pm

I gave up on "Scheisse" early on - the humor totally eluded me I'm afraid. I like Tim Moore, but can fully understand others feeling otherwise; I don't take him seriously at all (as a travel writer).

Frater is terrific - glad to see a mention!

huhtikuu 3, 2010, 1:47pm

>24 Seajack: So glad somebody else rates Frater. His books Chasing the Monsoon and Beyond the Blue Horizon are amongst my favourite non-fiction books ever, yet I hardly ever see him mentioned.