Jan Morris

Exquisite mementoes

All alone on page 313 of this spectacular book, a tattered but heroic flag flies in a painting of an icy wasteland. It is a remarkable picture for two reasons: first, because it was done by the Arctic explorer Edmund Wilson in 1912, when he and Captain Scott learnt from that very flag that the

The blank on the map

‘Is Geoff Dyer someone on your radar?’ inquired the courtly literary editor, inviting me to review this book. What a question! Envy is the writer’s sin, as everyone knows, and to a nonagenarian writer of my kind the very conception of Geoff Dyer, aged 57 and perhaps the most brilliantly original practitioner of his generation,

From Celtic tiger to pussycat

After a healthy Irish lunch I drove blithely off through the streets of Roscrea, I think it was, to find that everywhere I went the populace was cheerfully waving at me, smiling, gesticulating or blowing horns. When I stopped to ask them why, I found that I had left on the roof of my car

Pastoral scene of the gallant South

During the first ten pages of this long work Paul Theroux, on a journey through the American South, meets two citizens of Alabama. The first, encountered in Tuscaloosa when he asked the way to the Cornerstone Full Gospel Baptist Church, was named Lucille, called him ‘Mr Paul’, said ‘Ain’t no strangers here, Baby’, took him

Double thinking, double lives

This hefty volume is misleadingly titled. It is not an escapist sort of travel book, ushering the visitor around the homelands and houses of the Italian literati. It is a selection of the author’s previous literary articles, mostly book reviews for the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, and believe

Mocking the Welsh is the last permitted bigotry

‘Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans’ went a sarcastic lyric of Nöel Coward’s at the end of the second world war, and nowadays nobody of civilised instinct is beastly to them. Quite right too. Political correctness, so often stultifying to free expression, has at least ensured that racial bigotry is recognised as the cruellest

A prickly but noble nation

To my mind one of the relatively few happy circumstances of our time, as we grope into the 21st century, is the condition of Wales. By no means all Welsh people would agree with me. Those who love the Welsh language above all else must still fight their heroic battle in its defence. Those who