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The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

The Great Railway Bazaar (1975)

by Paul Theroux

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (45)  Dutch (4)  French (1)  Greek (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Yes. Paul Theroux is a curmudgeon at best and a sexist, racist asshole at worst. Still, this book is compelling in its embrace of the nature of travel. That is, Theroux recognizes the wonderful coincidences of travel for the miracles they are while acknowledging the horror of the small burdens that travel creates. He puts on an air of condescension but in his conversations, he belies both a knowledge and interest in the cultures and people he comes into contact with. I see now why this is considered a classic. ( )
  alexezell | Nov 14, 2018 |
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux ★★★★★

In this 1975 bestseller, Theroux, an American author, recounts his four-month journey by train in 1973 from London through Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, ending in the Soviet Union. He mentions taking detailed notes in his journal, but there are so many vivid details about all the sights and sounds and especially the people he sees and talks to along the way that he must have enjoyed indulging in some fiction writing practices based on a longstanding travel writing traditions, starting with Herodotus, and including countless others such as Dickens and Mark Twain, both of which Theroux mentions. Time seems not to have been an issue for him, though he was ostensibly booked for various lectures and conferences on literary subjects along the way, events he mentions mostly only in passing. However, train delays which were frequent and inevitable seem not to have phased him and only given him greater opportunities to observe his environment. He meets all kinds of vividly drawn characters and reconstruct their dialogue and manners of speaking, and describes local scenery that make you feel like you are staring out of the train carriage window along with him. There are vendors at the stations and plenty of beggars, and the sight of countless poor Indians shitting along the tracks which give a very human touch to the narrative. He explains the many different experiences each train offers, from the state of the equipment and carriages and the various food and comforts offered, or glaringly lacking—The Orient Express, on which he begins the journey being a glaring example of a once highly luxurious means of travel sadly gone to seed by the time Theroux travelled aboard it. He mentions not even bothering to get out of his compartment at stops in certain major cities because he felt uninspired to do so from his impressions of the place as seen from his berth. He talks about books he is reading along the way. [Little Dorrit] by Charles Dickens, is mentioned for a good leg of the trip and at the end of his story, he is depressed by Gissing's [New Grub Street] while watching bleak Soviet scenery, though many others books and authors mentioned along the way as he was evidently a voracious reader. Graham Greene is the subject of conversation among the travellers at one point, with some claiming to know the author personally.

I've googled for a list of the books mentioned but unfortunately haven't found it so far. This narrative is a trip-and-a-half, in great part because of Theroux obvious talent and delight in telling stories, but also because the first part of the route, followed what was then known as the hippie trail and drugs were easy to come by. Theroux, a married man and a father of young children at the time mentions partaking or drugs on offer along the way, including indulging in opium, which abounds in some of the areas he visits.

The Great Railway Bazaar earns 5 stars from me. I only give that rating to books I intend to reread as often as I can in future. I want to add a most heartfelt and insistent recommendation for the audiobook version here. Narrated by the great and sadly departed Frank Muller, it offers a listening experience that is a true delight. Muller has a wonderful reading style and creates nuanced accents and speech mannerisms in the dialogues with the various characters encountered on the journey that truly give add colour to the reading experience. On the other hand, Theroux took pictures of his travels and these appear in some of the print editions, so perhaps having both versions is a good idea for the ultimate Great Railway Bazaar experience. :-) ( )
  Smiler69 | Feb 11, 2018 |
i want to read this again. very well written. describes in a self-narrative story about 30 train stations across europe and asia. different railways, scenery, people, food, customs ( )
1 vote mtdewrock | Dec 30, 2017 |
I must admit that I enjoy travel novels. While not really fiction, there is typically a story with a beginning and an end that coincides with the departure and the arrival. Sometimes factual and historical, such as Sven Hedin's Silk Road, and at other times then-contemporary snapshots of a particular period in the recent past. This book includes the first chapter of Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, which covers the same journey as The Great Railway Bazaar but thirty years later. I must say that I am not a fan of such marketing of other books. A simple pointer to the new book would have been sufficient but now I am compelled to read this first chapter so the former book is properly "finished". I often keep my own journals when I travel, and I have several all waiting to be retyped or rediscovered. Sometimes I will keep a journal during the mundane times and write simply what happened. It is often banal. Theroux apparently wrote in the past tense as it happened, but it is his reflections and self-deprecating manner, especially towards the end of his journey, that captures how one must feel at the end of four months' train travel. I found this aspect, along with the historiographical capturing of the past viewed from the perspective of someone living in the mid-seventies, to be particularly engaging. As a consequence, this was an easy and enjoyable read and re-affirms my taste for good travel novels. ( )
  madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Theroux, Paulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abreu, FernandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Godó Costa, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanssen, TorilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koreman, KorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLoughlin, DeborahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Motta, MarisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohortof the damned,To my brethren in their sorrows overseas . . ."
And to my brothers and sisters, namely Eugene, Alexander, Ann-Marie, Mary, Joseph, and Peter, with love
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Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston and Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The meeting of Theroux with Shiva Naipaul, in a hotel in India, is remarkable. His having sex with a women in Swtzerland , (Or it is some other countrt the the Eastern europe, where he withdraws his royalty money from a local publisher) is also remarkable.

Krishna Bhatt. Author.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618658947, Paperback)

First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:25 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. --From publisher's description.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Average: (3.83)
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141189142, 0141038845, 0143566520

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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