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Overview

In 1953, twenty-four-year old Nicolas Bouvier and his artist friend Thierry Vernet set out to make their way overland from their native Geneva to the Khyber Pass. They had a rattletrap Fiat and a little money, but above all they were equipped with the certainty that by hook or by crook they would reach their destination, and that there would be unanticipated adventures, curious companionship, and sudden illumination along the way. The Way of the World, which Bouvier fashioned over the course of many years from his journals, is an entrancing story of adventure, an extraordinary work of art, and a voyage of self-discovery on the order of Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. As Bouvier writes, “You think you are making a trip, but soon it is making—or unmaking—you.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590173220
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 503,064
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Nicolas Bouvier (1929-1998) was born near Geneva. His father was a librarian, who encouraged his son both to read—among the books Bouvier devoured as a child were those of Stevenson, Jules Verne, Jack London, and Fenimore Cooper—and to travel. Bouvier studied for some years at the University of Geneva, but in 1953 he left without a degree to join his friend Thierry Vernet in the voyage to the Khyber Pass that is described in The Way of the World, published eight years later. Subsequent journeys took Bouvier to Sri Lanka (his experiences there inspired his one novel, The Scorpion Fish), Japan, and the Aran Islands (described in the books Japanese Chronicles and Journey to the Aran Islands and Other Places). Bouvier worked for many years as a photographer and as a picture researcher, spending much of his time hunting down obscure images in various libraries and archives. He was also a founding member, along with Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt and others, of Gruppe Olten, an informal organization of Swiss writers on the political left, and the author a slim book of poems, Le Dehors et le dedans (1982).

Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was an intrepid traveler, a heroic soldier, and a writer with a unique prose style. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in A Time of Gifts (1977) and continues through Between the Woods and the Water (1986), he lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. His books Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966) attest to his deep interest in languages and remote places. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania, and fought in Greece and Crete. He was awarded the DSO and OBE. He lived partly in Greece—in the house he designed with his wife, Joan, in an olive grove in the Mani—and partly in Worcestershire. He was knighted in 2004 for his services to literature and to British–Greek relations.

Thierry Vernet (1927-1993) was born in Grand-Saconnex in the canton of Geneva. He studied painting and stage design with Jean Plojoux and Xavier Fiala, and worked as a stage designer for productions throughout Europe. He was married to the painter Floristella Stephanie.

Robyn Marsack has been director of the Scottish Poetry Library since 2000. She has degrees in English literature from Victoria University (New Zealand) and Oxford, and has worked as an editor for the Carcanet Press. She won the Scott Moncrieff Prize for her translation of Nicolas Bouvier’s Le Poisson-scorpion (The Scorpion Fish).

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