Jan Morris, a Distinctive Information Who Took Readers Across the World
Morris enjoyed early success as a journalist, exploring the world on Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent to Everest, while climbing almost the entire mountain himself. She was a distinctive, elegant, formidable, and vicious historian, travel writer, and occasional writer.
She wrote quite a lot of Doddle later in her life; Not all of their things are worth the investment. (If you can make it through her books on Lincoln and Canada, you’re a tougher person than me.) But Venice, Oxford, Spain, The Wales Cause, Manhattan ’45, and Hong Kong, “to name a few, are her real headstones. Even in her smaller work, you can always feel a real intellect weighing and discarding ideas and objects. She made unexpected connections between things. If it was good, it was very good indeed.
Her most accessible book – Jan Morris for Beginners – is Pleasures of a Tangled Life, published in 1989. It’s a treatise in the form of short, sharp, loving essays. I recommend it as a gateway drug.
It is a book about principles as well as pleasure. Morris, for example, enjoyed “loathing all aspects and symptoms of authority around the world: the conceit of school prefects, the sarcasm of teachers, the arrogance of customs officials, the rudeness of postal workers, the complacency of social security workers, the sanctity of judges, the bustle of the inspectors, the complacency of the prison guards, the insolence of the censors, the domination of the security guards, the self-importance of the ministers, the hypocrisy of the police officers, the general insolence of all kinds of second-rate, exaggerated, puffy and humorless petty officials. It is a positive joy not to like her that much and to feel that at least life has spared me the humiliation of having authority over others. “
She made it a practice to attend legal proceedings wherever she traveled. These offered glimpses of “the social, political, and moral state of a place,” she wrote, but better yet, there is the “sheer pleasure of giving the accused a smile of compassion while looking at judges, court clerks, and complacent lawyers with one deliberate look at pickled mock-up. “