Journey to Kars by Philip Glazebrook

Published by Viking, 1984, Hardback in Dust Wrapper. 1st Ed.

Condition: Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Gently bruised at the spine ends and corners with commensurate ruffling to the dustwrapper. Previous owners’ inscription to the first blank. Text complete, clean and tight.

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From the cover: Between Semlin on the river Savas Austrian bank and the fortress of Belgrade under Turkish suzerainty lay, for much of the nineteenth century, the frontier between Christendom and Islam. Here, for many Englishmen embarking with baggage and servants and English saddles and English guns, the adventurous journey into the Sultans realms began. There was something solemn in the ceremony of departure wrote one, of his crossing in 1836, for once gone there was no returning; it was like quitting the living for the dead; and as I shook hands with my last two friends, and got into the frail punt-like boat, I could not help thinking of Charon and the river Styx.

Intrigued by accounts of such journeys through the Ottoman Empire, Philip Glazebrook became fascinated by the heroic characters which these men developed for themselves in their writings, where they appear as bold as any of Malorys knights errant. What impulse drove them to leave the country they believed superior to all others, in order to travel through danger, filth, disease and misery, among Asiatics they despised, in lands which at best reminded them of Scotland?

With this question in mind Philip Glazebrook planned a journey of his own. Through the old Serbian and Greek provinces and islands, through the ruined cities of Asia Minor as far as Turkeys eastern frontier with Russia at the fortress of Kars, then back by Trebizond, Istanbul and the Balkan capitals, he travelled alone for months, much of the time in a country under martial law, looking for scenes to illuminate those travellers characters in the light of the landscape they had crossed. Out of his journey through times past and present grew this remarkable book. At once a contemplation on travellers and travelling and a spirited account of a foray into regions as strange to the writer as they were to his nineteenth-century precursors, Journey to Kars is characterized by a sharp evocation of place and an elegance of style which make it an original and distinguished travel book.

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