In a sense, as a writer you are doing the travel for the reader. I get emails from people saying: I loved your book about Africa, but we went to Venice instead. So I get the impression that people who read my books don’t intend to take that trip themselves. In an ideal world they would like to travel alone and go to malarial swamps, but they haven’t got the time. They only have a couple of weeks vacation. So the idea that I’m in New Guinea, facing down boys with spears saying they are going to kill me, is a thrill for them. People read travel books for the same reason that they read novels. To transport them.
Paul Theroux, in The Browser (2012)
Hi! I’m Andrew. Thanks for stopping by and welcome to Travel Without Moving.
This is quite straightforward really. l love learning about places, their cultures, history, about the people who live there and those who have travelled there. To borrow from Paul Theroux (again), when I was young “elsewhere was the place I wanted to be. Too young to go, I read about elsewheres, fantasizing about my freedom. Books were my road.” (The Tao of Travel). Books about explorers and mysterious places, along with my grandmother’s subscription to National Geographic all fuelled my imagination and I pored over atlases, looking at the different colours of the countries wondering what the surface of those places was really like and who lived there.
Once I began travelling, I wanted to understand the places I had been or was going to. I searched out books by people who had travelled to and interpreted those places, either to read while I was travelling or to extend the journey once I returned home. Later, in between trips, travel books would seed ideas as I planned future journeys. Reading and travelling have always been linked for me and so it was probably always going to be just a matter of time before my fascination extended to the people doing the travelling and the writing.
Travel Without Moving has a simple aim: to collect together the best travel writing, new or old; on or off the internet; article or book. And there is a huge amount of travel writing out there.
As with any literary genre, its fortunes have shifted over the years. In 1946 Evelyn Waugh prematurely declared that he did “not expect to see many travel books in the near future” and yet within 10 years, Kingsley Amis observed that “[t]he vogue for the highbrow travel-book shows no immediate sign of abating.” Fast forward 30 years and travel writing was on the up again, with Bill Buford of Granta noting a revival.
Another 30 years on and the popularity of travel writing and travel books shows few signs of fading even though some writers (Paul Theroux included) suggest that travel books may have had their day and highlight concerns about quality.
Others have remained optimistic about its relevance, for example William Dalrymple or Richard Gott, who has noted that the “more we move about the globe, the more we want to know about it, and we want to know what other people make of it too.” This echoes what Colin Thubron called “the perennial fascination of the traveller’s voice – which is the sound of one civilisation reporting on another.”
The popularity of travel writing can be seen in the review pages of newspapers and magazines which regularly feature travel books by new and established authors. Old travel books out of print and out of copyright are also being reissued as new editions and, thanks to digital technology, are appearing online. At the same time, the internet and social media help new travel writing to reach a global readership through newspapers, online magazines and a profusion of travel blogs many of which are finding new ways of bringing the world to readers.
Travel writing is more important than ever as a means to reveal the vivid reality of places that get lost in the elevator music of 24-hour media reports. Robert D Kaplan
The trouble is, despite the volume, not all of it is good and that is where Travel Without Moving comes in. Inevitably there is selection and this is mine. In For Love & Money, Jonathan Raban called travel-writing “literature’s red-light district.” In deciding what to include, I have therefore embraced his view that, “as a literary form, travel writing is a notoriously raffish open house where very different genres are likely to end up in the same bed” and have avoided any hard and fast rules except to include only what I think is good writing, interesting or both.
I have used tags and categories, to arrange articles and books by Author, Destination, Mode of travel, Journey type, Environment and Date or period.
Travel Without Moving will also feature pieces about, and interviews with, authors as well as essays about the nature of travel in general and because stories can be told with more than just words, I will also post photo essays and videos.
If the content is online and is (legally) available free of charge, I will post the link to take you straight to it. If not, I’ll try to direct you to where you can buy it.
I do this in my spare time but will try to post regularly and as often as I can. If travel or writing and reading about places and travel, is your ‘thing’, I hope you’ll find something here to interest you. Please feel free to comment or make suggestions, I am sure there are books, articles, blogs and websites that I will miss. And, if you find something new or that you enjoy, then I will be well chuffed, so please let me know either here or on Twitter @travelwminfo.
Happy browsing and safe travels!