Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle A Forgotten Journey from Moscow to Manchuria
First Written 1934
Genre Travel
Origin The East
Publisher Tauris Parke Paperbacks
ISBN-10 1845119967
ISBN-13 978-1845119966
My Copy perfectbound, cheap paperback
First Read May 13, 2010

To Peking

Oh, Peter. My favorite travel writer issued not only his well-considered travelogues, but also published diaries from shorter trips. Before the events of News from Tartary, Fleming traveled from Moscow to Peking via a few less-popular routes, and wrote down these notes along the way.

He published the diary more than twenty years later, and annotated them with clever, self-deprecating footnotes.

As is usual for Fleming, it's charmingly written, if you're tolerant of sardonic, outdated pseudo-imperialist condescension. But beyond the cute mannerisms and turns of phrase, the author traveled through parts of Asia that are as little-known today as they were then. If most Americans can't place Iraq on a map, just think how far-off, romantic, or downright imaginary a place like Samarkand or Tashkent might seem!

Noted on May 13, 2010

[on a hunting trip that devolved into a drunken romp with guns]
Among the rank-and-file of the expedition some rather wanton small-bird shooting broke out. A puppy turned up from somewhere. A small snake was caught and put in a bottle. A large number of water melons were commandeered from a field and eaten. March discipline was poor.

Quoted on May 16, 2010

[visiting an 'Anti-Religion Museum' in 1934 Moscow]
I wrote a rude crack in the visitor's book at the Anti-God Museum, where our cameras were confiscated, though the woman in charge could not say why; it looks as if they had not the courage of their lack of conviction.

Quoted on May 13, 2010

[shopping in Hailang]
We went and shopped, acquiring two magnificent shubas (fur coats of a wild and wooly type) and two fur hats for 30 dollars. An amusing face racket over the price, which was at last solved by throwing in a pair of gloves. Charming old woman, full of jokes about her age. We also got huge and for me uncomfortable felt boots, in a shop with a nice kitten where the man made Elizabethan jokes about the legitimacy of his child.

Quoted on May 16, 2010

At Niegoreloje we picked up a team of athletes returning with a vast and hideous piece of silverware from an allegedly victorious contest in Paris.

Quoted on May 13, 2010

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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