The writing is lyrical and enormously beautiful in places. His descriptions of place are superb. His characterisations of some of the strnage and eccentric characters he meets (such as the man who speaks pianissimo, then mezzo forte, then fortissimo, then piano etc) is sometimes hilarious.
He suggests that Shiraz in Persia from whence derives red wine may be the originaotr of Sherry rather than Xeres in Spain.
He meets Jews expelled from Russia. He is aware of the problem with Jews and Germany and of the increasing fascism of Germany. Persia itself is under the despotic rule of the Shah whom he calls Marjoribanks.
He meets fire altars and the tomb of Zoroaster near Persepolis.
He hears (pp184-5) a story of a donkey who wears a 'loin' skin which sounds extraordinarily like the model for the donkey in the lion skin from The Last Battle by C S Lewis.
He plays a game using "a high net over which any number of people divided into two sides, can fist a soft football" (p 252) in the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan. Although Volleyball was invented in 1895 and an Olympic sport in 1924 (Paris), Byron seems not to recognise it.
He sees the two giant Buddhas in Shibar that were later destroyed by the Taliban but he is by no means impressed with them as works of art.
Links to Byron's photographs here.
A lyrical travelogue.
May 2010; 276 pages
Other great travel books in this blog:
- Walking through Europe: A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor and its sequel Between the Woods and the Water
- By milk float: Three men in a float by Dan Kieran and Ian Vince
- Walking on the coast (all of it): The Sea on our left by Shally Hunt
- By bike from Lands End to John O'Groats via a lot of pubs: Mud. Sweat and Gears by Ellie Bennett
- Watling Street by John Higgs