The Pillars of Hercules
A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean
By (author) Paul Theroux
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Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux
Book DescriptionAt the gateway to the Mediterranean lie the two Pillars of Hercules: Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. Paul Theroux decided to travel from one to the other - but taking the long way round. His grand tour of the Mediterranean begins in Gibraltar and takes him through Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul and beyond. He travels by any means necessary - including dilapidated taxi, smoke-filled bus, bicycle and even a cruise-liner. And he encounters bullfights, bazaars and British tourists, discovers pockets of humanity in war-torn Slovenia and Croatia, is astounded by the urban developments on the Costa del Sol and marvels at the ancient wonders of Delphi. Told with Theroux's inimitable wit and style, this lively and eventful tour evokes the essence of Mediterranean life.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780140245332
(198mm x 129mm x 30mm)
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 27-Jun-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Paul Theroux
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UK Kirkus Review » Although his humour and eloquence are often praised, Theroux has taken a few critical left jabs of late. Some critics say he is insensitive and inclined to various harsh judgements. C'mon, that's the joy of it. I write travel books. I know a dozen other folks who make their livings in the same way. If you got us all together over a few drinks, you'd hear a lot of discordant talk about various countries, and certain individuals living in them. Theroux says these things in public. He's honest about his perceptions and feelings: that's what makes him dangerous, and commendable and compulsively readable. Perpetually fleeing the horrors of the dreaded tourist, Theroux travels around the Mediterranean sampling life on the coast in low season, and - of course - never travelling by air. His musings are typically lofty and cynical, yet equally perceptive. He admits to admiring Evelyn Waugh's vicious judgments and agrees that 'satire is usually more purposeful than veneration'. The result is a unique but comprehensible survey of many cultures, climates, beautiful and not-so-beautiful places. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » With his effortless writing style, observant eye, and take-no-prisoners approach, Theroux (The Happy Isles of Oceania, 1992, etc.) is in top form chronicling this 18-month circuit of the Mediterranean. Only 15 miles separate the Pillars of Hercules at the mouth of the Mediterranean, but as is his wont, Theroux took the long way. It's the old Grand Tour route, charted by many seeking wisdom and experience. And if it was now haunted and decayed, so much the better: "Half a lifetime of traveling had given me a taste for the macabre." Theroux has a gift for the quick landscape sketch: hoofing it about the paths of Corsica, the lunarscapes of Italy's toe, the streets of a Tunisian town; but everywhere he finds people. His misanthropy is given a rest on this journey; yes, fools populate the pages, but so too do a host of dignified characters, from the ordinary joes he shares cabin space with to Naguib Mahfouz and Paul Bowles. They all make for a very immediate experience: "These sudden strange encounters . . . were much more interesting than the Roman amphitheaters and the ruins." Theroux has never been one to let pass any abrupt or truculent or stupid behavior ("several aspects of this reeking vulgarity interested me"), and it is always a pleasure when he calls a miscreant on his thuggish conduct. This contributes a snappy edge to the proceedings (Do you torture political prisoners here in Turkey? How do you feel about the Fascists coming to power in your Italian village?) and it keeps the journey fast on its feet. Theroux bestows perhaps his greatest compliment of all to the journey itself: "I knew I would go back, the way you went back to a museum, to look. . . and think." Never has he said that before. As satisfying as a glass of cool wine on a dusty Calabrian afternoon. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941. He has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including The Last Train to Zona Verde, Dark Star Safari, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Elephanta Suite, A Dead Hand, The Tao of Travel and The Lower River. The Mosquito Coast and Dr Slaughter have both been made into successful films. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands. His most recent work is Deep South, which is published by Hamish Hamilton.
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