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Hav : Comprising Last Letters from Hav and Hav of the Myrmidons Hardcover – January 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition (1 in numberline) edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571229832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571229833
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,930,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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What a mind, what a writing style, what a unique book.
keetmom
Hav marked the furthest most expansion of olden Chinese trading settlements and that presence is still seen in some quarters.
Leonard Fleisig
Overall, Hav is a fascinating book and well worth a read: a marvellous combination of fiction and travel narrative.
A. D. MacFarlane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Guttersnipe Das on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read as much as I can. I particularly love to scout out books that are unusual and perhaps a little neglected. Once a year I settle on a favorite - and then I irritate my friends (and anyone who will listen) begging them to read it.

In the past I've chosen books by Halldor Laxness or Gyula Krudy, by Bruno Schulz or Robert Walser or Clarice Lispector. Writers well-known in certain circles - but not nearly so celebrated, it seems to me, as their brilliance warrants. I call these books my "holy books" - they sustain me as I try to live and write and think in my own way.

Jan Morris' Hav is the best book I read all year. Here is your chance to tour Hav - a country which does not exist, though Jan Morris knows it intimately and, indeed, has friends there.

This book actually contains two books. The first, "Last Letters from Hav", was written in 1985. Morris' account of Hav is jam-packed with wonderment and peculiarity - and meticulous as a guide to the Louvre. Hav returned me to the mystery of places I knew when I was young, places I loved without ever quite comprehending - to Delhi and Kathmandu and Hyderabad most especially.

Twenty years later, the New York Review of Books asked Morris to write a kind of sequel. I am grateful to NYRB for many reasons (such as making available GV Desani, Nirad Chaudhuri and Robert Walser) but this was a stroke of brilliance. Unwilling to settle for nostalgia, the second book, "Hav of the Myrmidons", is remarkably different from the first.

Given the chance to return to Hav, Jan Morris did the bravest and most honest thing to the tangled old city. She destroyed it. Hav rebuilt is convenient and comfortable - the resort is world-class. However, the bears however are extinct. And the troglodytes live in apartments.
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Format: Paperback
Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors

The City-State of Hav is something of a mystical place. Nestled in critical cross-roads of the Mediterranean, Hav's history as a trading nation goes back to the ancient Greeks and in fact is rumored amongst some scholars to be the site of Troy. St. Paul's little-known Epistle to the Havians speaks of the inhabitants rather mercurial habits. Hav marked the furthest most expansion of olden Chinese trading settlements and that presence is still seen in some quarters. Hav's Russian, Italian, French, Chinese, Greek and Arabic neighborhoods all retain the ethnic and architectural flavors of the resident's ancestors. Hav's charms attracted, through the early years of the 20th-century some of the world's great celebrities all of whom feasted on Hav's rare snow raspberries.

Jan Morris, one of the world's great travel writers (amongst her other writing talents) has turned her keen eye for detail and her sharp prose to capture fully the flavor of the nation she first visited for six months in 1985. From her arrival in a train that courses down a mountainside through a dark, twisting tunnel custom built by the Russian's during their years in control of Hav to the haunting and beautiful Call to Prayer played by the great Hav musician, Missakian, on her first morning, Morris makes Hav come to life. You feel as if you are wandering the streets with her. You can sense the excitement as she watches Hav's annual Roof Race which course includes scaling buildings and leaping from roof to roof across the city. You can sense the danger on the day of her departure (the end of the first part of these memoirs) when you read about the fighter pilots screaming overhead as the infamous "Intervention" begins.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having spent a lifetime determined to visit and then write about all the cities she considered the great capitals of the world (a task she felt she accomplished in 1983 by finally going to Beijing), the great Welsh travel writer decided in 1985 to write for the first time about an imaginary city in her fictional work "Last Letters from Hav." Like Trieste, her favorite of cities, and Beirut and Alexandria, Hav is a Mediterranean city that has always been at the crossroads of empire: unlike anywhere else it is also like many other places simultaneously, and is a place of paradox and contradiction. Many of its greatest attractions and most famous wonders may suggest those of other celebrated cities (its dawn fanfare suggests Krakow, while its most ancient civic object, The Iron Dog, suggests both the Lupercal of Rome and the ancient sculptured creatures on the columns of the Piazetta di San Marco in Venice). Its citizens are cosmopolitans in the best Mediterranean sense: they seem to remember the days of occupation by the Russians, the French, the British, the Arabs, the Venetians, and even the Chinese (for whom Hav was the Westernmost outpost, just as it formed the Northernmost satellite for the ancient Caliphate). "Morris" (as character) is treated with graciousness throughout, but always she senses the mysteries suggested by the decorative labyrinth markings that stand as the city's symbol, and a deep-seated unease that finds its culmination when black airplanes cross the city's skies as she leaves... the beginning of a civil catastrophe which will later be called "The Intervention.Read more ›
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