As Laurie Lee wrote of his travels before the second world war, Europe was “wide open, a place of casual frontiers, few questions and almost no travellers”. In this fortnightly course, we’ll look at a selection of classic travel tales from this older, quieter Europe.
In Tales of the Alhambra the American author Irving Washington takes us to the Alhambra of southern Spain. Then we shift to England and follow J. B. Priestley as he travels around the country in 1933. In Mr Norris Changes Trains we will look at an expatriate’s experience of life in 1930s Berlin in a classic novel by Anglo-American writer Christopher Isherwood. We will finish with a visit to Greece, and read The Colossus of Maroussi, an impressionist travelogue by American writer Henry Miller first published in 1941.
We will think about what motivated such writers to leave the security of home and set forth on voyages of discovery and adventure. Is the Europe these travellers and novelists portrayed different to the Europe we might encounter on a holiday today? What has changed and has it all been for the better?
In 2023 I completed a journey that encompassed the four locations covered in these books, and I during the course I will offer my own thoughts on travel and writing from the perspective of today’s Europe.
11 March – Introductory Lecture on the genre of travel writing
25 March – Southern Spain in Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
8 April – England in English Journey by J. B. Priestley
22 April – Berlin in Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
6 May – Greece in The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller
Fortnightly Mondays at Wanneroo Library, 10.30am-12pm
Booking details to register for this course will be released in early 2024.