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Travels with Herodotus (Vintage…

Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International) (original 2004; edition 2008)

by Ryszard Kapuscinski, Klara Glowczewska (Translator)

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Title:Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International)
Authors:Ryszard Kapuscinski
Other authors:Klara Glowczewska (Translator)
Info:Vintage Books USA (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 275 pages
Collections:Your library

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Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuściński (2004)

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Kapuscinski writes of his travels in the 1960s and 1970s, with an old Polish translation of "The Histories." The book accompanied him in lands that were described by or at least referenced by, Herodotus. His travel memoirs were mildly interesting. Portions about Herodotus, even just long transcriptions of "The Histories", were magical. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Mar 22, 2014 |
Posthumously published memoirs by the renowned Polish journalist, I found I couldn't quiet warm up to this book. When the author is giving us biographical stories and details, its interesting, though there really isn't a whole lot of that here. Where he is essentially summarizing passages from Herodotus (which he does a lot of) it is again interesting but more than anything actually makes me want to pick up Herodotus! And then there is the mixed bag of ruminations and generalisations on life, the world and human nature which he derives from the passages in Herodotus which are occasionally intriguing, but more often, not. I much preferred [Shadow of the Sun] which I read last year. ( )
  iftyzaidi | Jan 1, 2012 |
“Travels with Herodotus” gives a wonderful taste of Kapuscinski’s travel writing. Those familiar with some of his earlier books – “Another Day of Life,” “The Emperor,” and “The Shadow of the Sun” – will detect his distinctive voice here. He even recalls visiting some of the same places in this book, including India, China, and northern Africa.

As the title hints at, Herodotus is a kind of trope liberally interlarded throughout the book: he is source for meditations on the philosophy of history, the place of humans in relationship to the gods, and occasional thoughts on subjects as various and sundry as ethnography, the customs of local people, and the birth of the historian’s wanderlust.

The book opens with Kapuscinski’s recounting of his discovery of Herodotus, remembering that when he was in school there was regrettably no reliable translation in Polish (his native language); he only discovers him later when he is given the book as a gift early in his career before beginning his travels. On the first page of the book, he immediately finds a kindred spirit. He is in awe of Herodotus, a man we know little of, but whose inexhaustible curiosity about people, their mores, history, and ideas obviously inspired him – and reminds him much of himself.

The interplay of the Herodotus and Kapuscinski shed light on one another in unexpectedly beautiful ways. The stories of Solon, Croesus, Darius, and Xerxes, and many others, are retold and reexamined. Points of continuity start to appear between Kapuscinski’s travels and Herodotus’, each of which sing in tandem with one another.

There seems to be some fracas regarding the author’s conscious mixture of reportage and literary writing, but I never got the sense that he was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the reader or that he was “rewriting history.” I found his writing less fictive than imaginative. After all, what historian claims to write without the aid of imagination?

I thought this was a great place to start to get a taste of Kapuscinski’s unique literary voice. It will certainly plant a seed of interest in both writers, if it isn’t there already. ( )
1 vote kant1066 | Dec 29, 2011 |
Since college RK had been fascinated by Herodotus' book. It became a touchstone in his life as he traveled the world and reported on it. I have known about Herodotus for a while and actually have an old copy on the shelf. Now I will make time to read it. Very early 'Kaplanesque' style writing. So much so I think Kaplan was influenced RK early on. ( )
  JBreedlove | Oct 30, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ryszard Kapuścińskiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glowczewska, KlaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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I am like one of those old books that ends up moldering for lack of having been read. There's nothing to do but spin out the thread of memory and, from time to time, wipe away the dust building up there. - Seneca
All memory is present. - Novalis
We are, all of us, pilgrims who struggle along different paths toward the same destination. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Before Herodotus sets out on all his travels, ascending rocky paths, sailing a ship over the seas, riding on horseback through the wilds of Asia; before he happens upon the mistrustful Scythians, discovers the wonders of the Nile, before he experiences a hundred different places and sees a thousand inconceivable things, he will appear for a moment in a lecture on ancient Greece, which Professor Biezunska-Malowist delivers twice weekly to the first-year students in Warsaw University's department of history.
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From renowned journalist Ryszard Kapu?ci?ski comes this intimate account of his years in the field, traveling for the first time beyond the Iron Curtain to India, China, Ethiopia, and other exotic locales. This is an exceptional chronicle of one man's journey across continents. - Publisher.… (more)

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