Europe in the Looking Glass

Europe in the Looking Glass

Robert Byron Jan Morris / Jan 20, 2021

Europe in the Looking Glass Three rich young Englishmen cross pre World War II Europe in an old car with a mixture of laugh out loud humor and perceptive commentary on art and architecture Turning a corner we suddenly found ours

  • Title: Europe in the Looking Glass
  • Author: Robert Byron Jan Morris
  • ISBN: 9781843913573
  • Page: 373
  • Format: Paperback
  • Three rich young Englishmen cross pre World War II Europe in an old car with a mixture of laugh out loud humor and perceptive commentary on art and architecture Turning a corner we suddenly found ourselves sliding down a precipice, tilted so far forward that it was necessary to hold ourselves back with our hands pressed against the dashboard, as half a dozen Apennine valleThree rich young Englishmen cross pre World War II Europe in an old car with a mixture of laugh out loud humor and perceptive commentary on art and architecture Turning a corner we suddenly found ourselves sliding down a precipice, tilted so far forward that it was necessary to hold ourselves back with our hands pressed against the dashboard, as half a dozen Apennine valleys beckoned invitingly below Here St Peter s Popes with black faces and golden crowns are wallowing twice life size in the titanic folds of marble tablecloths, their ormolu fringes festooning upon the arms of graceful skeletons to disclose some Alice in Wonderland door or the grim hinges of some sepulchral grill Best known as the author of The Road to Oxiana, published in 1937, Robert Byron had developed his considerable writing skills on this travel book which has not been in print since 1926 It describes a journey Byron made with three friends, driving across Europe between two world wars, and mixes political and historical analysis with architectural insights, classical scholarship, and the day to day adventures of three young and not very experienced travelers For fans of Robert Byron s work this will be a discovery for others it will be an introduction Includes nine original sketches made by the author during his travels.

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    About "Robert Byron Jan Morris"

      • Robert Byron Jan Morris

        Robert Byron 1905 24 February 1941 was a British travel writer, best known for his travelogue The Road to Oxiana He was also a noted writer, art critic and historian.Byron was born in 1905, and educated at Eton and Merton College, Oxford He died in 1941, during the Second World War, when the ship on which he was travelling was torpedoed by a U Boat off Cape Wrath, Scotland, en route to Egypt.Byron s The Road to Oxiana is considered by many modern travel writers to be the first example of great travel writing It is an account of Byron s ten month journey to Persia and Afghanistan in 1933 34 in the company of Christopher Sykes Byron had previously travelled to widely different places Mount Athos, India, the Soviet Union, Tibet However it was in Persia and Afghanistan that he found the subject round which he forged his style of modern travel writing, when he later came to write up his account in Peking, his temporary home.Writer Paul Fussell wrote in his 1982 book Abroad British Literary Traveling Between The Wars that The Road to Oxiana is to the travel book what Ulysses is to the novel between the wars, and what The Waste Land is to poetry Travel writer Bruce Chatwin has described the book as a sacred text, beyond criticism, and carried his copy spineless and floodstained on four journeys through central Asia.However, in his day, Byron s travel books were outsold by those of writers Peter Fleming and Evelyn Waugh.An appreciation of architecture is a strong element in Byron s writings and he was a forceful advocate for the preservation of historic buildings, and was a founder member of the Georgian Group A philhellene, he was also amongst the pioneers in a reinterest in Byzantine History.He attended the last Nuremberg Rally, in 1938, with Nazi sympathiser Unity Mitford Byron knew her through his friendship with her sister Nancy Mitford, but he was an outspoken opponent of the Nazis He died aged 35 in 1941 after his ship, the SS Jonathan Holt, was torpedoed by a u boat in the North Atlantic.


    639 Comments

    1. The only perspective that makes this read a step-up from the inherent zenophobia in The Clumsiest People in Europe: Or, Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World is the twenties between-the-wars time slot. Byron himself may have been a serious contender for the escalating hate of the British by continental Europeans as he, with pride, did not lose an ounce of his Englishness.Smyrnablurb - Europe in the Looking Glass is Robert Byron's travel classic, recounting a car journey acros [...]


    2. From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:Europe in the Looking Glass is Robert Byron's travel classic, recounting a car journey across Europe in 1926, and providing a mirror on events and nationhood both then and today. Byron (a descendant of the poet) found acclaim as the author of The Road to Oxiana - an account of a trip to Afghanistan and Persia.It tells the story of three young Englishmen travelling across the neighbouring continent in an unreliable car - encountering the rise of Italian fascism [...]


    3. I nearly gave up on this book half way through, but then reconsidered and reminded myself that the book does have redeeming features. Not many, but it does have them:1. The description of the zeitgeist with which Byron and his friends are experiencing their adventure.2. The description of Diana, the car. What a marvelous piece of motoring equipment she must have been, and 3. The spirit of the people that the three boys meet along the way. As I noted along the way I couldn't help but sympathize w [...]


    4. The parts about the car and the difficulties encountered on the way to Greece, were quite interesting to read. But the lengthy descriptions of architecture and sacral buildings became a bit tedious after a while. In my view, Patrick Leigh Fermor's books are a better choice regarding depictions of pre-WWII-Europe.


    5. Read it in prep for my second trip to Italy. Although Byron was a very good writer this memoir was written when he was in the frame of mind of a privileged, pompous, immature boor. It's worth a read for some perspective of that kind in the 30's.


    6. On Friday, the 1st of August, 1925 three young men climbed into an overpacked touring car and drove out of London. Their destination was ambiguous; “the Balkans” was mentioned as the general direction. The three, David Henniker, Simon O’Neill and Robert Byron had met at Oxford. Byron has recently been “sent down” with a third class History degree, a result of unspecified offenses. He was just 25 and Europe In The Looking-Glass his first book. As Jan Morris notes in a perceptive forewor [...]


    7. I had to buy Europe in the Looking Glass due to the wonderfully evocative cover on the Hesperus Press edition.Europe in the Looking Glass is written in a digressive, conversational style by a 20 year old about driving through Europe in 1925 and is full of humour (sometimes unintended), both in Byron's strongly held artistic convictions and for arch one-liners, such as "The Romans were vulgar before the rest of Europe had even become refined."However, Byron opens a window into a lost past, where [...]


    8. Very 20s/30s. Three young men cross Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and end up in Greece. The car has to be lifted manually onto a small boat for the final leg. It is a charming account of the important places they visit. Quite a lot about fascists in Italy and detailed descriptions of buildings, streets, views of Athens and people. Escapist and fun


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