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West with the Night by Beryl Markham
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West with the Night (1942)

by Beryl Markham

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English (93)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (97)
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After reading [b:Circling the Sun|23995231|Circling the Sun|Paula McLain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1426531608s/23995231.jpg|43446210], I was anxious to read Beryl Markham's own account of her life, and it was well worth reading. What a remarkable woman, so fearless and capable and well-ahead of her time.

I am always taken by the way books set in Africa become somehow about the country in a way that transforms it into almost a character in itself. I certainly felt that from Markham, that Africa was more than a place to her, that it was a spirit, a soul. Her writing style is very tactile.

Hot night wind stalked through the thorn trees and leleshwa that surrounded the clearing. It bore the odour of swampland, the smell of Lake Victoria, the breath of weeds and sultry plains and tangled bush. It whipped at the oil flares and snatched at the surfaces of the Avian. But there was loneliness in it and aimlessness, as if its passing were only a sterile duty lacking even the beneficent promise of rain.

I could feel that wind and smell the swamps. Her stories unfold seamlessly and you are there with her seeing and feeling and knowing Africa and its people. Markham is not a white woman living in Africa, apart from the native inhabitants, she is a part of Africa...she hunts with Nandi, she lives an African life.

The distant roar of a waking lion rolls against the stillness of the night, and we listen. It is the voice of Africa bringing memories that do not exist in our minds or in our hearts--perhaps not even in our blood. It is out of time, but it is there, and it spans a chasm whose other side we cannot see.

Ultimately, Beryl Markham becomes the first person to make the Atlantic flight, east to west, solo. She is fearless in flight, just as she was fearless in every other aspect of her life.

I loved this passage. She was speaking of Africa, but it rang so true to me of life itself:

Blix would see it again and so should I one day. And still it was gone. Seeing it again could not be living it again. You can always rediscover an old path and wonder over it, but the best you can do then is to say, 'Ah, yes, I know this turning!' -- or remind yourself that, while you remember that unforgettable valley, the valley no longer remembers you.

Finally, on reading this book, Ernest Hemingway said "I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job...but she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers." High praise from a writer who would know.

Very happy that I was pointed in the direction of knowing Beryl Markham better. I have great admiration for her and strongly recommend this marvelous book. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
If a library exists devoted to “Women Who Rock,” Beryl Markham’s memoir West with the Night must be in its collection.

Many readers will be delighted by this book. The author is intelligent, amusing, and clear-sighted in the account she gives of her life during the time Britain ruled East Africa, while also seeming less blighted by conceit than some whose lives have been so eventful. It’s possible she had flaws that would stain or ruin the impression she gives with her writing (cf. the final paragraph below), but if so they are missing from this story. Might want to avoid a biography if you find yourself as smitten as I am.

Markham has a gift for making come alive all sorts of scenes unfamiliar to most any reader’s experience. This is wonderfully displayed in accounts she gives of separate attacks by large cats on her and on Buller, her dog—she by a lion, Buller by a leopard. She writes brilliantly about many other events too, among which was her attempt to be the first to fly solo nonstop from England to America.

Suspicion exists that West with the Night wasn’t written by Markham but was instead ghostwritten without acknowledgment. That would be disappointing, partly for the misrepresentation but also for losing the impression of a vital mind capturing, by her own talent, the spirit and curiosity that make her seem special. Yet, if ghosted, her ally had to be told the materials. The loss of sole authorship wouldn’t change the events of her life nor necessarily counterfeit the temperament that reported them. The interest excited by the stories themselves still remains. ( )
  dypaloh | Apr 10, 2018 |
Beryl Markham either had an incredible editor or she is an amazing writer. The reader is taken on adventures and life experiences along with Markham in her captivating writing style. ( )
  niquetteb | Mar 28, 2018 |
West with the Night is a 1942 memoir by Beryl Markham, chronicling her experiences growing up in Kenya in the early 1900s, leading to celebrated careers as a racehorse trainer and bush pilot there.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 14, 2018 |
Reread for 3rd time in 2017. Enjoyable, but glosses over most personal feelings and relationships. Nonetheless, a fascinating early life in colonial Africa. ( )
  Grace.Van.Moer | Mar 6, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beryl Markhamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gellhorn, MarthaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"I speak of Africa and golden joys." -- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Act V, Sc. 3
Dedication
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."
First words
"How is it possible to bring order out of memory?"
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
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
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0865471185, Paperback)

One of the most beautifully crafted books I have ever read, with some of the most poetic prose passages I could imagine, such as the following, resonating with a stately and timeless quality so absent in our modern life:
There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.
Born in England in 1902, Markham was taken by her father to East Africa in 1906. She spent her childhood playing with native Maruni children and apprenticing with her father as a trainer and breeder of racehorses. In the 1930s, she became an African bush pilot, and in September 1936, became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:26 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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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