About Us

Contact Us



Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Reviews: Travel Writing

Three Short Reviews on The Nature of Travel.
Prof Eric Lehman

The Worst Journey in the World by Aspley Cherry-Garrard
“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long
as all you want is a penguin’s egg.” This tragic book is nearly universally acknowledged as one of the classics of adventure writing, definitely considered the unparalleled apex of polar exploration, and certainly does not need my approbation. Aspley Cherry-Garrard’s writing style beautifully brings both the singular characters and the Antarctic environment to life. In fact, this perfectly controlled story of a disaster approaches not just great travel writing, but great literature.
Cherry-Garrard makes us feel the unfathomable cold of the polar winter, as well as the lengths humans go for the smallest of gains. But he also tells a gripping tale, an easy thing to do with a triumph, but not with a disaster.
In a way, this book reads a lot like Moby Dick - both detailed and realistic, giving total access to Captain Scott’s failed expedition. But it also plumbs the icy depths of the polar sea for meaning and awareness. Aspley Cherry-Garrard is a man who has done what all travelers hope to - live through an extraordinary adventure and not only survive, but understand it.

Hampshire Days and Nature in Downland by W.H. Hudson

Listen carefully to dear, old W.H. Hudson. He will tell you of long days rambling down country lanes, of ancient stone walls and green pastures, of deep forests and crumbling cottages, of overgrown churchyards and hidden villages. He will tell tales of rustic farmers and humorous preachers, of skilled fishermen and innocent village girls. He will sing to you of his special love, the birds: of wrens and plovers, of geese and herons, of curlews and peewits, of cuckoos and swallows. He will tell you of wild England as no other writer can.
Hudson is one of the last of the old-style, amateur naturalists, but he is also a writer. His observations are accurate, but poetic rather than prosaic, with just the right mix of fancy and science. And Hudson’s narrative rambles as he does. He will talk about observations he made about bird behavior in the marshes, move on to an incident in the forest where a spider killed a grasshopper, and then to a meditation on death as he rests on an ancient barrow on the heath. Hampshire Days and Nature in Downland are two of the last good examples of how science and art once met on the page without conflict.
Cover Not Found

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

I came to this masterpiece quite late in life. I’m not sure why, because I had seen it on library shelves since my childhood. But then one of my other favorites, Peter Mathiessen’s The Snow Leopard, referred to the famous “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” chapter and so I found an ancient hardbound edition with the original drawings. I carefully read it one Saturday afternoon in my easy chair, with soft music playing and a cup of Earl Grey steaming next to me. I was enchanted. The adventures of Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad are timeless and fun, something I was prepared for from a children’s classic. But I was not prepared for the wisdom, harmony, and depth of the more reflective chapters.
The Wind in the Willows burns with the warm hearthfires of fellowship and compassion. It concerns home and travel and the balance we must strike between them. And so on a driving tour, two friends and I read it out loud to each other, finishing on the last stretch of highway heading for home. One of my life-memories will be reading a chapter from this treasured tome on the windy top of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
This is unquestionably a book for a certain kind of explorer - those of us who explore our homes: the little fields and streams, the groves and reed ponds, the paths and villages. And at the end of the day, we enjoy sliding back into our easy chairs, boiling a cup of tea, and wrapping up in a comfortable blanket. We may never discover a hidden city or make the first ascent of a mountain, but you can be sure we still hear the wind in the willows.

© Prof Eric Lehman October 2003
Quinnipiac University
Hamden, CT 06518

More Travel in Hacktreks

More Reviews here


© Hackwriters 2000-2003 all rights reserved