A information to the books of Jan Morris, a travel author who tried to grasp the which means of in all places

The reading list: five must-have Jan Morris books

Venice (1960)

The result of Morris’ long and passionate relationship with the Italian city, this international bestseller is a lively immersion into Venetian life. He explores the temperament of the city dwellers while exploring the storied past, quirks, history and architecture of La Serenissima. Jan Morris first visited Venice as a young James Morris during World War II, and later wrote much of this book while working as a traveling reporter and foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. It has appeared in numerous editions since, but has never been properly revised. an impressionistic youthful vision of a multi-layered city. Combined with Trieste and the importance of nowhere, it is a superlative example of Morris’ talent for drawing clear, unforgettable portraits of cities, characterized by such vivid descriptions as: “An incessant drift of boats goes by in front of the town’s quays ; a large white liner slides towards its port; A multitude of wobbling palaces, brooding and monstrous, crowd the coast like so many invalid aristocrats who hunt for fresh air. ‘

Trieste and the meaning of nowhere (2001)

This homage to Trieste is neither a travel book nor a volume of history – it is more different from the city of nowhere. Morris writes about Trieste affectionately as if it were a dear friend. I first picked up this book, which deals with the theme of my parent company and its evocative “afterlife”, when I was living in Perugia. I visited later and also felt the dragging loneliness that Morris describes. She regards the city as a fourth world diaspora that transcends race, faith, gender and nationality: the fact of an intense history of rule (over the Habsburgs, fascist Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Italy) and its geographical location as the easternmost outpost of Italy, between three countries wedged against the Adriatic: “A fold in the map, wedged, hole in the corner”. She returns here in old age and finds that Trieste’s ‘sweet melancholy’ has come to portray her own life. Morris explores the secrets of identity and geography and cleverly captures the feeling of a “hallucinatory city” in the balance. a “half-wishful utopia”. Contribution by Stephanie Cavagnaro

Sultan in Oman (1957)

Morris’ only real job as a travel writer (at least by her own definition: a writer who moves rather than writing about the place), Sultan in Oman is following an exhilarating drive through this country just as oil exploration turned it backwater into a modern business hub in the near East. In this account of the first car crossing of the Omani desert, Morris accompanied the Sultan from his southern capital, Salala, to the northern capital, Muscat, as the winds of change – oil, the end of an imperial line, and revolution – loomed large in the desert Background. The trip ultimately inspired Morris to write her major work, The Pax Britannica Trilogy.

Oxford (1965)

“Oxford made me,” said Morris of the town she attended school in, and later read English at Christ Church. As a writer, it could be said that it was her globally exclusive newspaper reports of the first ever recorded climb to Everest in 1953 that really cemented Jan Morris as a writer (an eyewitness account was later published – Coronation Everest, 1970), but it is the university town who marked them the most. A lyrical, stylish city guide for anyone interested in the long history, the famous residents and the ongoing contradicting contrasts of the city and garment culture.

Destinations: Essays from Rolling Stone (1980)

A collection of the long-form city profiles that Morris wrote for Rolling Stone in the 1970s and that were recorded everywhere from Los Angeles, the city of know-how, to Washington shortly after Watergate, Cairo, at the time of the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks and Trieste, where the beginnings of their obsession can be traced. This collection leads the way in contemporary travel writing as an insightful, expansive cultural commentary that doesn’t shine on the author. It goes well with her book Coast to Coast, which featured a year of traveling by car, train, ship, and plane in the USA in the 1950s. “I didn’t know it then, and neither did America, but chance had brought me across the Atlantic at the forefront of American luck,” says Morris in the new introduction to the book.

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