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West with the Night by Beryl Markham

West with the Night (1942)

by Beryl Markham

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2,9581103,177 (4.16)397
West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.

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English (106)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
The 1942 publication of West With the Night witnessed the arresting arrival of a skilled, wise, worldly storyteller into the public consciousness. Beryl Markham certainly had an interesting story to tell. The British-born girl was moved to British East Africa (later Kenya) in 1906, at the age of four. Living on her father’s farm - something Americans would tend to call a “spread” - she became familiar with horses, agricultural production, and local native tribes. More remarkable, she became active in native hunts, where various tribesmen would bring the teen-ager along to witness the predators and game of East Africa.

And of course on top of all this, she was the first aviator to fly west across the Atlantic, from England to Nova Scotia, where she survived landing under duress in a crippled airplane.

But: West With the Night is so much more than a simple re-telling of a memorable life by an indomitable woman. It’s irrefutable evidence that the gift of telling a story dwells in certain individuals, and cannot be denied. Markham shows a grace, a natural flow, and an undeniable logic in her memoir. She also sprinkles short speculative nuggets throughout, in which she tackles philosophical subjects: life, family, morals, character, history, politics. And I want to affirm the two essential features of these études: they come just at the moment where they belong for the flow of her narrative, and they display the deep wisdom, sophistication, and wit of their author.

The Africa of primal and primeval forces comes alive under her treatment. The safaris, the deadly hazards, natural and human, the paternalism of subjugators, the intimidating fauna, from elephants to insects - all these form the backdrop of Markham’s life. Her willing spirit takes them all on; she suffers a lion’s mauling and a stallion’s pummeling hoof, among much more, and goes on to achieve local and global celebrity as a pioneering aviator. Africa at this transitional time cannot have a clearer guide than this eyewitness.

This memoir is a distinct pleasure, from beginning to end. Read it, and you will take a flight of your own. Its joys are manifold, unflagging and rewarding. Come for a re-telling of a remarkable life; stay for the pure reading pleasure.

https://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2020/05/west-with-night-by-beryl-markham.htm... ( )
  LukeS | May 17, 2020 |
Beryl Markham approaches the story of her remarkable life with the mindset of a literary novelist and the result, West with the Night, possesses all the advantages and drawbacks of such a strategy. The book is often lacking as autobiography – it omits or undersells a great many important events and relationships in Markham's life, and its non-linear, anecdotal approach allows for little appreciation of the chronological arc of her life. A novelist, in comparison to a memoirist or diarist, is more reticent about being part of the story. They put themselves into the writing, of course – it cannot be helped – but they leave much unrevealed about their character. A memoirist, in contrast, is meant to deliver their whole personal character on the page; Markham, whether consciously or not, chooses the approach of the novelist.

It has mixed results, but largely positive ones. The narrative can be disorientingly vague at times and, like many a first-time writer, Markham tries some things which don't come off. For the most part her writing is pleasingly clean and understated, but some lines which are meant to sound regal instead sound inflated. That said, such lines are relatively few, and for the most part Markham delivers exemplary prose. Ernest Hemingway praised the book, saying its author could 'write rings around all of us', and Markham certainly possesses keen powers of observation, writing particularly vividly about animals, aviation and Africa. You can be reading the book through at times, only to suddenly realise that she's just told you a really immersive story in an understated way. More than any autobiographical achievements – and Markham certainly led an impressive life – it is these immaculate examples of anecdotal writing which I will remember most about West with the Night. ( )
  Mike_F | Aug 22, 2019 |
I've read Beryl Markham's memoir "West with the Night" a few times and it never disappoints. If you're looking for fierce women who broke through the gender barriers set up in their generation, Markham has to be high on the list. She raised and raced horses in Africa she was barely out of her teens, then learned to fly and became the first woman to cross the North Atlantic (though she crash landed before reaching her goal of New York.)

The book is beautifully written and segues nicely between the different periods of her life. I was interested to learn that she was friend with Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dineson) who she must have tortured by sleeping with Denys Finch-Hatton and spending so much time on safari's with Karen's ex-husband (in what at least appears to have been an affair from the outside.)

At any rate, Markham was fascinating lady who wrote a fascinating book. ( )
  amerynth | Mar 14, 2019 |
I loved this book. The writing was simply beautiful. Some critics think it was written by a ghost writer (her 3rd husband), but I don't have a problem with that. Great writing is great writing. Her life is a wonderful adventure! ( )
  anitatally | Feb 28, 2019 |
Dit is een overweldigend mooi boek, al krijg ik niet goed op een rijtje waarom ik het zo goed vind. Hoewel Markhams belevenissen avontuurlijk zijn, is het aspect ‘avontuur’ zeker niet doorslaggevend voor mijn appreciatie. Het boek is prachtig geschreven en de opbouw van het verhaal is vlekkeloos, maar ook dat is niet bepalend. Misschien is het toch in de eerste plaats de open blik waarmee de auteur naar alles en iedereen kijkt die je zo voor haar inneemt. Het boek speelt grotendeels in Brits Oost-Afrika, het huidige Kenia, in de eerste decennia van de twintigste eeuw, en – hoewel zij subtiel aangeeft hoe de Afrikaanse speelkameraad uit haar jeugd zijn sociale positie tegenover haar aanpast eens zij volwassen zijn (door haar anders aan te spreken) – toch is er op geen enkel moment ook maar iets te merken van koloniale superioriteit of neerbuigendheid. Het lijkt wel of Beryl Markham de eigenheid en de kracht van natuur, dier en mens niet alleen perfect aanvoelde maar er zich spontaan ook helemaal op instelde. Het is merkwaardig dat de auteur niets zegt over haar moeder, haar drie echtgenoten of haar zoon, maar dat stoort helemaal niet. Haar vader, die haar op vierjarige leeftijd als enig kind meenam naar Brits Oost-Afrika, komt wel voor in het boek. Ook hij neemt geen centrale plaats in. De weinige korte en zakelijke vader-dochter passages tonen echter op indrukwekkende wijze de onverbrekelijke band tussen hen beiden.

Met dank aan De Arbeiderspers voor deze nieuwe uitgave. ( )
  Frans_J_Vermeiren | Jan 21, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beryl Markhamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gellhorn, MarthaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"I speak of Africa and golden joys." -- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Act V, Sc. 3
For my Father
"I wish to express my gratitude to Raoul Schumacher for his constant encouragement and his assistance in the preparations for this book."
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"How is it possible to bring order out of memory?"
Namen sind die Schlüssel für Türen, hinter denen Halbverschüttetes liegt, verschwommen für den Verstand, vertraut jedoch im Herzen. - S.14
Niemals zögern oder zaudern, niemals sich umdrehen und niemals glauben, dass eine Stunde, an die man sich erinnert, eine bessere Stunde ist, weil sie tot ist. Vergangene Jahre scheinen sichere Jahre zu sein, eine entschwundene, gefahrlose Zeit, während die Zukunft, wie in einer konturlosen Wolke, aus der Ferne bedrohlich wirkt. Dringt man in die Wolke ein, so klart sie auf. - S. 144
Ich lernte, was jedes träumende Kind wissen muss - dass kein Horizont zu weit ist, um bis zu ihm und über ihn hinaus vorzustoßen. - S. 198
Was immer der Mensch unternimmt, Würde erlangt sein Bemühen erst, wenn echte Arbeit dahintersteckt, und fühlt man dann das Bedürfnis, sein - im Wortsinn - Handwerk auszuüben, so begreift man, dass die anderen Dinge - all die Experimente, die Eitel- und Nichtigkeiten, denen man nachjagte - ganz einfach unsinnig waren. - S. 298
...every farmer is a midwife. There is no time for mystery. There is only time for patience and care, and hope that what is born is worthy and good. p. 121
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From book cover: 'More than a biography; a poet's feeling for her land; an adventurer's response to life; a philosopher's evaluation of human beings and human destinies'.
This unusual and beautifully written memoir was first published in 1942 to huge critical acclaim. Beryl Markham was born in England in 1902 and has lived in Africa since the age of four. Her father, a horse-breeder, scholar and adventureer, chose East Africa because 'it was new and you could feel the futuer of it under your feet'. She spent her childhood playing with Murani children, hunting with the Murani cheiftan and witnessing her father's patience and labour as he transformed a stretch of wilderness into a working farm. She learnt to speak Swahili, Nandi, Masai. In adolescence she was apprenticed to her father as a trainer and breeder of racehorses, and at eighteen became the first woman in Africa to be granted a racehorse trainer's license.

IN 1931, Beryl Markham turned to flying. She carried mail, passengers and supplies to the remote corners of Kenya, the Sudan and was was then Tanganyika and Rhodesia. In September1936 she made worl headlines by becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west - taking off from England and crash landing in Nova Scotia twenty-one hours and twenty-five minutes later. This evocative book is rare and remarkable testimony to an Africa that no longer exists.
Original title: West with the night
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