With such tantalising chapters as In Defence of Smuggling and Lunch with Homer this is a witty, eye-opening tapestry of Freya Stark's writings on travel and a life spent as one of the 20th century's most formidable adventuresses. In chronological order, spanning an extraordinary 50 years, from 1919 to 1967, Stark ranges from eloquent musings on the nature of travel, of being a woman - both writer and explorer - in what was then predominantly a male world and jewel-bright stories from across the world - Arabia to North Africa, Iran and India - that captivate the reader with every sentence. There are romantic picnics under starlit skies on remote islands, meaningful moments of quiet in Mecca and Jerusalem and heartfelt accounts of encounters with a kaleidoscope of people. The Zodiac Arch resurrects lost worlds, reveals a little of the woman behind the legend and is, at heart, a magnetic read for all those under the spell of wanderlust.
Barbara Ward & Associates
Country of Publication:
30 August 2014
Preface ix The Foreign Office 'H' 1 Persian Legends 5 Ideas and the Mandate 15 Himyar, the Lizard 23 A Note on Style 33 Exploring with Words 37 Travel for Solitude 43 Saying What One Means 49 My Worst Journey: 1943 55 The Wise Men 61 Round Perim in Wartime 65 Arab Background 71 Musical Interlude 85 The Dead Comrade 89 An Eclogue of War 95 The Bull-fight 105 Royal Tombs at Mycenae 109 The Old-fashioned Spinster 115 Tidiness 119 Greed 123 This I Believe 127 The Travelling Reader 131 On Travelling with a Notebook 137 The Travel Essay 141 Tunisia for the Tourist 149 The Golden Domes of Iraq and Iran 153 Lunch with Homer 161 Passing Fashions 169 In Defence of Smuggling 175 Time 187 On Silence 189 Our Second-rate Security 199 Decadence, or the Bed of Procrustes 205 Montoria 215 Notes 227
Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of Middle East writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female travellers in history. She explored Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Southern Arabia, where she became the first western woman to journey through the Hadhramaut. Usually solo, she ventured to places few Europeans had ever been. She received the title of Dame and her many, now classic, books include Travels in the Near East, A Winter in Arabia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins.
Reviews for The Zodiac Arch
'It was rare to leave her company without feeling that the world was somehow larger and more promising. Her life was something of a work of art - The books in which she recorded her journeys were seductively individual - Nomad and social lioness, public servant and private essayist, emotional victim and mythmaker.' - Colin Thubron, NY Times 'Few writers have the capacity to do with words what Faberge could do with gems--to fashion them, without violating their quality. It is this extraordinary talent which sets Freya Stark apart from her fellow craftsman in the construction of books on travel.' - The Daily Telegraph 'Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history.' - The Observer 'One of the finest travel writers of our century.' - The New Yorker