In 1935 Ella Maillart contemplated one of the most arduous journeys in the world: the "impossible journey" from Peking, then a part of Japanese-occupied China, through the distant province of Sinklang (present day Turkistan), to Kashmir. Enlisting newswriter Peter Fleming (with the caveat that his company remain tolerable), Maillart undertook a journey considered almost beyond imagination for any European and doubly so for a woman. The trip promised hardships such as typhus and bandits, as well as the countless hazards surrounding the civil war between Chinese communists and Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists. Setting out with pockets full of Mexican money (the currency used in China at the time), Maillart encountered a way of life now lost, but one that then had gone unchanged for centuries. Maillart describes it all with the sharp eye and unvarnished prose of a veteran reporter - the missionaries and rogues, parents binding daughters' feet with rags, the impatient Fleming lighting fires under stubborn camels. It's a hard road, not that Maillart cares. At all times she is a witty, always-enchanted guide - except when it comes to dealing with bureaucrats.
Forbidden Journey ranks among other travel narratives like Fleming's News from Tartary, (based on the same journey) and Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana. But it is also a portrait of a fascinating woman, one of many women from the pre-WWII era who ignored convention and traveled in hidden lands. It remains a vivid account of its time and a classic of travel literature.
Buy Forbidden Journey book by Ella Maillart from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(210mm x 133mm x 19mm)
Northwestern University Press
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
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Author Biography - Ella Maillart
Ella Maillart was born in Switzerland in 1904. An Olympic athlete, actress, movie stuntwoman, and captain of the Swiss Ladies Hockey Team, Maillart also found time to travel widely in Asia. In 1939 she and her companion Annemaie Schwarzenbach drove from Switzerland to Afghanistan, a trip described in Maillart's book The Cruel Way (Beacon, 1987). Her other books include Turkestan Solo (Long Riders Guild, 2001). She died in 1997.