February 4, 2007


Paul Fussell takes long, literate journeys with Waugh, Lawrence, Orwell, Hemingway, Isherwood, Norman Douglas, Robert Byron, Peter Fleming, and a cast of thousands of inkeepers, touts, customs officials, and other impediments to travel. His topic is not simply traveling or the peculiar imperatives of the travel book, that strange composite fiction that lies somewhere South of the book of essays and North of the novel. Fussell’s true interest instead lies in what we should do and how we should behave — an interest he acquired with special urgency under the instruction of German artillery in the winter of 1944-5 — and his prophet is the Robert Byron who proposed a special prize for those who could travel while reading three significant new books each week, with an additional £1000 for those who would additionally undertake to drink a bottle of wine each night.