A real-life adventure that inspired countless travellers in fact and fiction, the "Penguin Classics" edition of Robert Byron's "The Road to Oxiana" includes an introduction by Colin Thubron. In 1933 Robert Byron began a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Teheran to Oxiana - the country of the Oxus, the ancient name ...
A real-life adventure that inspired countless travellers in fact and fiction, the "Penguin Classics" edition of Robert Byron's "The Road to Oxiana" includes an introduction by Colin Thubron. In 1933 Robert Byron began a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Teheran to Oxiana - the country of the Oxus, the ancient name for the river Amu Darya which forms part of the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. "The Road to Oxiana" offers not only a wonderful record of his adventures, but also a rare account of the architectural treasures of a region now inaccessible to most Western travelers. Robert Byron (1905-41) was born in 1905, and educated at Eton and Merton College, Oxford. He died during the Second World War, when the ship he was serving on was torpedoed by a U-Boat off Cape Wrath. Byron's "The Road to Oxiana" is considered by many modern travel writers to be the first example of great travel writing. If you enjoyed "The Road to Oxiana" you might like Charles Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle", also available in "Penguin Classics". "The greatest of all pre-war travel books". (William Dalrymple). "What "Ulysses" is to the novel between the wars, and what "The Waste Land" is to poetry, "The Road to Oxiana" is to the travel book". (Paul Fussell). "In any list of the great travel books of the 20th century, Robert Byron's account of his travels in Persia and Afghanistan, "The Road to Oxiana", must be put somewhere near the very top". ("Telegraph").
This travel diary takes place in the 1920's and is location specific. It is also written to give to his mother who, it seems, was disappointed in her son for his less than stellar accomplishments as a student.
To understand references to place, architecture, and peoples of the middle east, the reader would need to have ready access to and continually refer to a good number of reference books including an historical atlas. Not to mention the time to look everything up.
Some pluses. The author expresses humor and clearly has an appreciation for antiquity of all types, particularly of the hidden and little discussed variety. Also, he has a wonderful way of comparing structures - or the remaining parts of them - he views with aspects of nature. And he does this in a captivating and lovely way.
So it was a mixed read.
Understanding more history about the formation of Iran and Iraq and their peoples would be very interesting and enlightening.
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