In the spring of 1926, the writer Vita Sackville-West travelled to Persia to visit her husband, Harold Nicolson, who was at the British Legation. Her journey took her through Egypt, India and Iraq and back later that year through the newly-Communist Russia and revolution-torn Poland. The route was circuitous and the pace leisurely, though not without excitement. This is her account of the journey, the descriptions of her adventures being told with characteristic humour. The introduction by her son, Nigel Nicolson, reveals many personal details of the journey which were omitted from the original edition.
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Vita Sackville-West, the celebrated writer and Bloomsbury member, was a prolific poet and author. Her most famous works include The Edwardians, All Passion Spent and the classic poem The Land which won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927. With her husband she created the magnificent and hugely influential gardens at their home, Sissinghurst Castle. In 1946 she was made a Companion of Honour for her services to literature. She died in 1962.Review:
The best travel books are personal accounts, and no one limns the acutely personal as does Vita SackvilleWest. This is her account of a long journey in 1926 from Kent in England to the British Embassy and her husband Harold Nicolson in Teheran. "Rushing" by train through France and northern Italy, she deplores the loss of that leisured contemplative "recurring to the expected end of his journey" enjoyed by travelers of an earlier time. By boat to Aden and across an endless Indian Ocean, she reflects on those black holes of existence that fall in between time zones: the very compression of time itself. Briefly in India, she frets over her "shallowness," knowing she does not see what she chooses not to see, yet leaves it without regret. On then through a placid, opalescent Persian Gulf; by train to Baghdad. Heedless of the dire warnings of officialdom, she joins the diplomatic mail-run by motor caravan from Baghdad across the deserts of Iraq, on through treacherous mountain passes of what is now Iran. Curious, exuberant, undaunted by exhausting heat, numbing cold, jostling camel caravans, brigands and bad roads, she rides into Teheran, the Persia that has been the mecca of her imagination. Repelled by what is ugly, enthralled by what is fabulously rich and beautiful, she arrives at an objectivity about the former and doesn't let herself drift too far down the path to the Arabian Nights. just enough to remind us that travelers as recently as 1926 could still be dazzled by that acute sense of the foreign in a world not yet reduced to the redundancy of Coca Cola, Levis, and smog. She roams the shadowy bazaars, remarking on their peculiar lack of clamor, the sleepy regard of shopkeepers "less concerned to sell than to see that nothing is stolen." Her prose is often lavish, sensual with color and a tone that resonates for eye and ear and sense of smell, yet is astringent with the wit of one who can chide herself, recognizing the trap of her own snobbishness; she has "no illusions about seeing the life of the people." First published by the Hogarth Press in 1926, this edition has a new introduction by Nigel Nicolson, the author's son, who selected the photographs Sackville-West took on this journey. And, for the armchair traveler, there is an added pleasure in just holding this well-made book with its graceful, tall shape, fine paper, excellent typography, and photos with a faint sepia tint redolent of 1926. -- From Independent Publisher
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Book Description Collins & Brown, 1990. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111873054009
Book Description Collins & Brown, 1990. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1873054009