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Old 04-28-2019, 10:28 PM   #16
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I thought the writing in Part 2 was smoother than Part 1 so I think that you may find the book easier to read as you progress, Spinnenmonat. I plan to finish with Part 3 by the end of next weekend.

Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal had an article titled "Retracing Edith Wharton’s Trip to Morocco—For Better or Worse The Gilded-Age novelist, lesser-known as a travel writer, makes for a beguiling, if contentious guide to North Africa." There is a paragraph in the article that says:
Quote:
What she didn’t gush about were the locals. Wharton took a dim view of Jews, Muslims and black Africans—that is, most of 20th-century Morocco, save for French colonialists, whom she categorically revered. The more I read of “In Morocco,” the less I liked her.

“Wharton looked at the world in a very hierarchical manner,” Stacy Holden, associate professor of history at Purdue University, later told me, “In which the West is superior and colonialism is justified.” She was quick to add that these views weren’t at all uncommon among the political and economic elite then.
Those attitudes are not surprising for that time period. However I thought it was a coincidental article to read at the same time as Greene's book because he does characterize the attitudes of the British in Sierra Leone and the French in French Guinea in his book. One of the things I find interesting is his observations of those countries in contrast to the government officials and people in the independent Liberia.

Here's an article that isn't behind a paywall if you want to know more about her book.
https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2018/...rgettable-book

Also I was surprised that Edith Wharton wrote a travel book so it made me wonder what other authors wrote about Africa. Here is a list that I found.
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/b...23667?mode=amp
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Old 04-30-2019, 02:24 AM   #17
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After several days' interruption, I will come back to read the book again. Thank you, Bookworm Girl, your words are very encouraging.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:20 AM   #18
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I finished the book this weekend. I did learn some about history by researching new topics as I read. I was unfamiliar with Liberia and the American Colonization Society. I don't remember learning that in school.

My initial thoughts are I'm glad to have read it. I agree that it is not as good as other travel books that I have read. However, it was also better. For example, a few months ago I read a book by Agatha Christie about her travels with her archaeologist husband. Greene's book was much better and detailed at capturing the experience and the people than her book. I did have a sense of being present with Greene as he described his adventures.

I wish there had been more about his cousin. What a strong personality she must have been to endure their journey!
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:57 PM   #19
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I'm still not finished, but I'm over 90%! One thing I've been dying to say since I started, and I don't know why I waited so long, is how ironic it is to have a book entitled Journey without Maps that begins with a map of the journey. Now that that's off my chest, I can go on living.

I am enjoying the book, but it's not quite the book I was expecting from the sample I'd read. I wish he'd been less stolidly phlegmatic about it all. It is a grand adventure written about as if he were describing a walk down the lane. I suppose that's very British of him, but personally I think he goes above and beyond almost to the point of absurdity, treating the whole trip as approaching blasé.

Perhaps part of it has to do with the feeling that he seems to treat the trip as a duty or labour to be got through. I felt no sense of happiness, joy, wonder, amazement or anything really. The closest I think was the night in which there was a large moon and I think there'd been a dance or some communal get-together that night, and he speaks of how the moment of that night's atmosphere with the moonlight shining down was something that couldn't be experienced in England, or something like that.

Honestly, it seems like he didn't enjoy much of the trip. He explains why well, but I also think that made it less enjoyable as a reader, as instead of making the trip entertaining despite the bad or stressful things that happened, he drags us into the dullness of the problems. I don't need to be worrying about how many hampers of rice they'll be getting at each village and for what price and how hungry (or starving even) that will leave the men helping him on the way. I would like to know about these aspects of the trip, but he plops them down on the page so unemotionally and continuously.

It's also unfortunate he chose to use words like 'picaninny', and so often.

Still, it is amazing to think that he - and his cousin! - would embark on such difficult and dangerous trip as this that is so so far off the beaten path that in some of the villages they were the first white people the villagers had ever seen.

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Old 05-17-2019, 02:33 PM   #20
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One thing that wasn’t very clear to me is why he was traveling there in the first place. Did he address that and I forgot it?
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:33 PM   #21
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Not that I recall either. I assumed he just wanted a great adventure, possibly to write about, in an 'undiscovered' area since that part of Liberia hadn't been properly mapped. Now that I think about it, maybe he did mention something in the beginning when discussing the title about deciding he wanted to travel there when he saw a map of the country with uncharted sections?
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Old 05-18-2019, 09:47 PM   #22
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I tried skimming the beginning sections and nothing was obvious to me for a reason.

This NY Times article called "In the Footsteps of Graham Greene" by Tim Butcher is fascinating for a modern day perspective of his journey through Liberia.
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/o...butcher26.html

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Old 05-18-2019, 09:52 PM   #23
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Here is another article that followed Greene's steps in recent times too. LA Review of Books: On Reading Graham Greene in Liberia in a Time of Ebola By Brian Castner.
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/...-time-ebola/#!

It offers this explanation:
Quote:
In the opening chapter, he offers one pseudo-explanation: “The motive of a journey deserves a little attention,” he writes. “It is not the fully conscious mind which chooses West Africa in preference to Switzerland.” But the brief discussion that follows doesn’t answer the question, only vaguely references Conrad, a preoccupation with Africa in his dreams, gangster novels, “a quality of darkness” that he needed to explore. The reader is left to accept this as sufficient motivation to spend a month walking across a country with his young female cousin and 26 local porters. It would be decades before the truth was reported: Greene was an agent of the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines’ Protection Society, documenting cases of human trafficking. Not a peep to be found in the book.
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