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Jan Morris (then James) first visited Trieste as a soldier at the end of the Second World War. Since then, the city has come to represent her own life, with all its hopes, disillusionments, loves and memories. Here, her thoughts on a host of subjects - ships, cities, cats, sex, nationalism, Jewishness, civility and kindness - are inspired by the presence of Trieste, and recorded in or between the lines of this book. Evoking the whole of its modern history, from its explosive growth to wealth and fame under the Habsburgs, through the years of Fascist rule to the miserable years of the Cold War, when rivalries among the great powers prevented its creation as a free city under United Nations auspices, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere is neither a history nor a travel book; like the place, it is one of a kind.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780571204687
ISBN-10: 0571204686
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 127mm x 14mm)
Pages: 208
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 22-Jul-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Bookshops will, one hopes, order many copies of Trieste. Not simply because it's a beautiful meditation on a suggestive subject; but because it's two kinds of book, and belongs on two different shelves. Primarily it is a travelogue. But, at a deeper level, it's autobiography. This small 'free port', 'open city', and 'home of exiles' on the Adriatic is an image for the author herself. Himself, as James Morris was, when he first went there, as a British officer, in 1946 (true to its history, there was a tug-of-war as to which side of the Iron Curtain Trieste would fall after World War II). As Morris says in her epilogue: 'Much of this little book has been self-description. For years I felt myself an exile from normality.' For those coming to Morris for the first time, the book is prefaced by 'A Necessary Explanation': 'Jan Morris lived and wrote as James Morris until she completed a change of sexual role in 1972.' In other words, 'Trieste, c'est moi'. Exile can be stimulating but is always unhappy. The name Trieste carries with it an accidental association with 'tristesse'. As Morris puts it: 'Aristotle, I have been told, believed that every interesting man possessed a streak of melancholy. I feel the same about cities. Melancholy is Trieste's chief rapture.' Bonjour Trieste. As a travel book, Trieste is entertaining - primarily for the fascinating vagrants who have, usually in transit, called it home. Two great writers dominate: James Joyce and Italo Svevo. There are lesser glories. I did not know, for example, that Sigmund Freud spent time there, doing research on the sexual propensities of eels. As Morris observes, the young women of Vienna turned out to be richer territory. Review by John Sutherland (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Jan Morris

Jan Morris was born in 1926 of a Welsh father and an English mother, and when she is not travelling she lives with her partner Elizabeth Morris in the top left-hand corner of Wales, between the mountains and the sea. Her books include Coronation Everest, Venice, The Pax Britannica Trilogy (Heaven's Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets), and Conundrum. She is also the author of six books about cities and countries, two autobiographical books, several volumes of collected travel essays and, more recently, the unclassifiable Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A Writer's World, a collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, was published in 2003. Hav, her novel, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her most recent book, Contact!, about the people she encountered on her many travels, was published in 2009.

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