July 30th, 2007


Books I'm reading

I'm reading Turkestan Solo, A Journey through Central Asia by Ella Maillart, first published in 1934. This is the first book written by the author I discussed last December. I've already read Forbidden Journey which I enjoyed more than Peter Fleming's account of the same trip. There was more 'I' in Fleming's book and less about the culture and scenery. Maillart is a better and more descriptive writer. I've already encountered a passage in this book I particulary like:

"... To learn how to deal with life!

And above all, make it real, by reducing it, morally and physically, to simple terms. For only so can its robust savour be known.

Everything must be relearnt again, before life can be truely guaged. What life is worth is a conception we have all lost, more or less. But in contact with primitive, simple peoples, mountain-dwellers, nomads, and sailors, it is impossible to ignore the elemental laws. Life finds its equilibrium again.

My way leads towards desolate lands, treeless and empty of habitations. I shall pass months in a solitude as old as the hills, but then I shall be able to judge what crowds mean to me. With all the weight of the heavens over my sleeping body, I shall learn what a roof is, and cooking over a fire of dung I shall learn the true worth of wood." [page 22-23]

This nicely summarizes Ella Maillart's credo.

I'm also reading The Birth of France, Warriors, Bishops, and Long-Haired Kings by Katharine Scherman, 1987. The author is one I mentioned in an earlier journal entry. The book starts about 400 BC and ends about 750. This is my bedtime book, and it will take a while to read. Reading the last Scherman book, Daughter of Fire, a Portrait of Iceland, took almost a year.

Lastly, I'm reading A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819 by Thomas Nuttall. Nuttall was a naturalist and on his travels in 1819, he passed nearby.