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1,1051411,152 (3.81)20
Info:PENGUIN (2000), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:travel, Europe

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The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux


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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
The Mediterranean is simultaneously a barrier and a shared resource depending on how it's used and viewed. Does influence span it, or is influence limited by it? The travel limitations faced on Theroux's overland sections are contrasted by the fact that the sea is right there for travel, illustrated by the constant retreat to a ferry, cruise ship, etc. Really enjoyed the contrast of the different cruise experiences. ( )
  sarcher | Dec 22, 2018 |
Certainly the best of Theroux's work - though I have yet to read a book of his that wasn't at least interesting. His grand idea this time is to travel from Gibraltar to Ceuta (Morocco), the two fabled pillars of Hercules, but to do so the long way round. That's the principle, at any rate. What follows is a uniquely bizarre adventure that swings this way and that around the Med; nothing is as simple as it seems. Wonderfully fun. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Sep 8, 2016 |
I've liked Paul Theroux's travel writing since I was in college, when I read Kingdom by the Sea, his account of traveling around England by foot. I love that he's grumpy, opinionated, straightforward, and difficult. And when he's on, he's really funny. I laughed out loud several times over the course of this book. But damn, it was tough going until he got to the war-torn countries. I'd say the first half of the book, spanning Spain, France, Italy, and the various islands, were some of Theroux's least inspired writing, at least what I've read from him. He seemed dour, the places all began to feel the same, he was forever walking around unremarkable coasts, looking for hotels and dinners. But once he got to Albania, the entire tone shifted, and I began to feel Theroux was in his element. When this book was published, the Bosnian conflict was in full swing, so I feel much of his writing here qualifies as war reportage. From there, the work only got stronger. His blunt assessment of Israel was interesting, as were his journeys through Syria, particularly with the hindsight all of us now have of that troubled country. I also got a kick out of his time in North Africa. I think he did, too. He was most alive when he was in these locales. I also liked the sheer weirdness of how Theroux randomly gets on a luxury cruise--which I think he writes about fantastically. He follows this up with two more cruises, only these are far more modest, even weird. I appreciate the unself-conscious nature of much of Theroux's writing here. I just wish he'd cut out half of the countries he visited. It felt as if he were simply going through the motions in order to maintain the idea of the book--or the gimmick, I guess, which was to travel from one Pillar of Hercules to another. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
Excellent writing about a clockwise circuit of the Mediterranean, more or less. He skips a few places due to the political and military nature of that spot of geography, but does a good job getting into and eyeballing places the average person would not go. A really good eye for some incriminating detail.... ( )
  untraveller | Apr 6, 2014 |
Choppy and disconnected, but still well-written and fun. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
For along with being an anti-tourist, Mr. Theroux prides himself on being something of the village atheist: religious enthusiasm of any kind fills him with equal-opportunity loathing. And why not? There are enough horrors to be apportioned among the great Mediterranean faiths, and Mr. Theroux, to give him credit, casts a skeptical eye on the murderous accomplishments of the secular powers as well.
Theroux bestows perhaps his greatest compliment of all to the journey itself: ``I knew I would go back, the way you went back to a museum, to look . . . and think.'' Never has he said that before. As satisfying as a glass of cool wine on a dusty Calabrian afternoon
added by John_Vaughan | editKirkus (Jul 21, 1992)

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People here in Western civilization say that tourists are no different from apes, but on the Rock of Gibraltar, one of the Pillars of Hercules, I saw both tourists and apes together, and I learned to tell them apart.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449910857, Paperback)

Paul Theroux has developed one of travel writing's most identifiable styles: always the foreigner, always a bit apart, slightly irascible, but perfectly observant. At last he has ventured to one of the most traveled places on earth, and returned with his most exhilarating, revealing, and eloquent travel book. In this modern version of the Grand Tour, Theroux sets off from Gibraltar, one of the fabled Pillars of Hercules, on a glorious journey around the shores of the Mediterranean.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:21 -0400)

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In this modern Grand Tour, Theroux sets off from Gibraltar on a journey around the Mediterranean Sea. It is a long, lively, and occasionally dangerous trip, up the coast of Spain, along the Riviera, by ferry to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and beyond. By foot, train, bus, and cruise ship, Theroux travels around Italy and the Greek islands, to Albania in a state of near anarchy and to war-torn Croatia. He sails into Istanbul, its minarets and mosque domes beckoning him to the Levant. Ahead are Damascus and the villages of Syria, shrouded in the cult of Assad; Israel, besieged by suicide bombers; Egypt, Morocco and Paul Bowles' Tangier. Exploring wild coastlines, probing through layers of tradition and culture, ancient and modern, tawdry and splendid, Theroux weaves the legends and siren calls of civilizations as old as time into a story about life on the Mediterranean today.--From publisher description.… (more)

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