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Abroad: British Literary Traveling between the Wars Paperback – June 17, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0195030686 ISBN-10: 0195030680 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the most interesting and insightful book that I have read on travel writing, and my students seem to agree."--Jonathan Smith, Texas A and M University

"Abroad is an exemplary piece of criticism. It is immensely readable. It bristles with ideas. It disinters a regal lost masterpiece from the library stacks. It admits a whole area of writing-at last!-to its proper place in literary history."--The New York Times Book Review

"What Fussell has done-brightly, wittily, with bravura display of critical methods-is to reclaim for travel writing a large measure of literary respectability."--Newsweek

"[Fussell's] book is a fitting substitute for the real thing; it is a journey in time and space, offering the serendipitous pleasure of the open road."--Time

"An absolutely dazzling continent of sociology, literary criticism, cultural history, biography and amusing anecdote, so borderlessly fused that we hardly realize what great intellectual distances we are covering."The New York Times

"[A] witty book that bristles with outrageous assertions....Fussell obviously enjoys the act of writing about his reading, which is what makes the book so lively."--The Tribune (London)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 17, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195030680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195030686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Magalini Sabina on August 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Fussell is universally famous for his extensive studies on the cultural impact of the Twentieth Century Wars. In this 1980 book instead he dedicates his attention to a topic that appears as a serene hiatus between massacres: British travel literature of the 20's-30's. Fussell has no shame in affirming that the books published in this period are the best travelogues ever written, since from the 1930's on "travel" degenerated into "tourism".
The reason of the escape from England of the young literate, witty people of the WWI generation, is identified on one hand in the loathing, disgust and angst due to the terrible experiences of those that had fought in the trenches and on the other of those that bore the meagre economical war situation and restriction of liberty at home. This imperative pulsion to fuge Fussell identifies in the phrase "I Hate it Here", which recurs often as the leitmotif of his work. What writers wanted to flee was England, home, the bad weather, the poverty, so the South and in particular the sunny Mediterranean was elected as a putative home for the body and soul. However travel in the Nineteenth Century was becoming more difficult due the introduction of some limitations, like the passport in the 20s, that posed a practical and psychological problem, forcing people to realize their age, aspect and economical status together with the passing of time due to the photographs always at hand. The "passport nuissance" was accompanied by the formal identifications of many before unrecognized and unmapped frontiers, that caused other problems and reasons for reflexion.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By gormenghast on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Paul Fussell can be intimidating. It's not that his writing style is "difficult." On the contrary, it never loses its conversational tone and after a while the reader begins to envy the seemingly effortless, breezy way in which Fussell descants upon everything from literary criticism to European history to Islamic architecture to weighty philosophical matters. Indeed, it is not long before one finds oneself envying Fussell on many different levels. His breadth of knowledge, the ease with which he traverses academic disciplines, his disgusting erudition - these are the things which make him so intimidating, but also such a brilliant writer. In "Abroad," he is examining travel writing as a genre, specifically British travel writing between the two world wars. In outlining his case that travel writing has been unappreciated and is just as deserving of critical attention as novels or poetry, Fussell draws upon so many different books, from so many different fields, that one begins to panic, thinking, "I have read NOTHING. I need to quit my job immediately and devote the rest of my life to catching up on my reading. I also need to build my miserable vocabulary and develop a new, Fussell-esque writing style." Fussell has that effect upon people.

In the 1920s and `30s, British writers wanted to be anywhere but in Britain. The "British Literary Diaspora," as Fussell calls it, began as a reaction to WWI. Soldiers mouldering in trenches at the front had consoled themselves with dreams of sun-lit lands, and when the war ended the last place they wanted to be was England. Civilians, unable to travel for more than four years thanks to the Defense of the Realm Acts of 1914 and 1915, were just as eager to escape. Fussell writes: "The war was widely blamed for ruining England...
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mark Miller on March 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
Time was when travel was as memorable an adventure as a stunning love affair, a divorce, a personal catastrophe. That time was between the wars -- the Great War and WW2 -- and no group of observers was better positioned to write of it than the great British travel commentators. You will think differently about the activity and meaning of travel after you read this captivating, if occasionally slow-going book by one of the finest observers of the 20th century at work today. And not least of all ABROAD takes you back into the world of T. E. Lawrence's time, when ships were the only way to cross the seas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roland Estrada on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tired of crowded planes, sitting alongside of intolerable neighbors, having eaten tasteless meals served by pushy stewardesses, well, read this book to see what was the world like when mass and world travel was just beginning. Not a care in the world. The book describes what was it like to have no TSA and no passport requirements for traveling far and away. Written in a swift prose, Paul Fussell's book is real literature and with a long sentence like 'He who travel fastest travels alone, to be sure, but he who travels best travels with a companion if not always a lover' your curiosity will take you through descriptions of places and things that only your grandmother can remember. This book is a joy and is also great way to brush up on your British literature.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
ABROAD by Paul Fussell is an enjoyable, rather short (227 pp. of text), surprisingly overpriced, yet not wholly satisfying look at the "I Hate It Here" phenomenon of British (and occasionally American) writers who fled their native countries post-World War I in favor of Europe in the Twenties and more exotic lands in the Thirties. This period of about 1919-1939, the so-called "Interwar" period, was for Fussell the last efflorescence of "travel" in the sense of independent-minded, inwardly-directed solo voyagers (sometimes with companions) who studied the history and culture of their destinations, made their own arrangements, and were willing to suffer the inconveniences and discomforts when the inevitable if occasional breakdowns occurred. (In the modern era, says Fussell at rather too much length, "travel" has been replaced by "tourism" -- more comfortable perhaps, but a mass phenomenon whereby hordes of tourists from the wealthier countries fly on pre-booked charter flights to pre-reserved "International" hotels in order to view tourist clichés in countries they know little of, except the visual. And, of course, transatlantic ship crossings have been replaced by mass tropical cruises.)

When Fussell is good, he can be very, very good, as his accounts of D.H. Lawrence and wife through Italy attest, and his rapturous accounts of Robert Byron's many travels in the Mideast and Central Asia. In fact, Fussell's plumping for (and subsequent re-discovery by armchair travelers of) Byron's outstanding 1937 travel-and-architectural account, THE ROAD TO OXIANA, may be the worthiest cultural residue of this 1980 book.
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