Wednesday, 7 December 2011

All the Ways are open [Review]

Annemarie Schwarzenbach // All the Ways are Open // Seagull Books // translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

This is not a travel book. It purports to be but it is not, instead it is a set of highly impressionistic pieces by Annemarie Schwarzenbach recounting experiences during her journey to Afghanistan in a 18HP Ford with Ella Maillart.

Ella Maillart published her own account of the journey as the Cruel Way, a book that is much more a travel book in much the same way that Robert Byron’s Road to Oxiana is a travel book.

That said Schwarzenbach’s book is enjoyable, in no small part due to the polished translation, Its impressionistic nature adds rather than detracts to its charm, giving glimpses of a more innocent world now vanished.

And that is its value – not as a travel book but as a portrait of a world that was ….

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