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Last Letters from Hav

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  75 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Hav is like no place on earth. Rumored to be the site of Troy, captured during the crusades and recaptured by Saladin, visited by Tolstoy, Hitler, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana, this Mediterranean city-state is home to several architectural marvels and an annual rooftop race that is a feat of athleticism and insanity. As Jan Morris guides us through the corridors and qua ...more
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 203 pages
Published 1985 by Random House Trade
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mark monday
- and the impression is given of a monumental but neglected folly, built by a sequence of playful potentates for their own amusement down the centuries.

travel writer Jan Morris composes a requiem for all of her favorite places and cultures, casting them in the imaginary setting of "Hav" - a country similar to Turkey in style and to the cities of Istanbul and pre-civil war Beirut in its cosmopolitan juggling of cultures. the result is a beautifully written and melancholy trifle. the mournful tone
Jesse Whitehead
Aug 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
This may be not only the most boring, but also the most pointless book that I have ever read. I don’t read travelogues so I don’t know if this is good or bad by those standards, though Jan Morris, in the eighties, was one of the most respected travel writers.

The unfortunate, weird, and amazing thing about this one is that the city of Hav does not exist. This is a travel novel of Ms. Morris spending four months in a city that she made up. She mentions famous people that have visited this city (Hi
Jim Rittenhouse
My god, I've read some horribly boring, pointless books in my time, but this is excruciating. Got about 20% in before it hit the nearest wall, hard, and is now in the to-be-donated pile. Not recommended for anyone anywhere.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: China Mieville (City & the City)
I've wrestled with what to say about this ever since I first read it. I knew I liked it. A lot. If you have ever wished you could go to your favorite author's imaginary city or planet, then this book is for you. If you ever memorized all the bits of trivia that that the author let fall about your favorite imaginary society, then you should give this a try. Likewise if you want to be transported out of your chair or seat on the bus and into a beautifully realized imaginary place. If, however, you ...more
Chris Whyte
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book which I first read when I was a teenager not sure of my geography and whether Hav was a real place or not. Those who have described it as lacking plot are correct - not much appears to happen for most of the book. But those who complain of lack of characterisation are wrong because the character is the city itself to which all the vignettes Morris describes add layer upon layer of meaning. The resulting atmosphere is so compelling it's no wonder many people allegedly thought Ha ...more
Siobhan Markwell
Oct 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Lacking detailed characterization and plot line, travelogues work because the reader is interested in the location. If the location doesn't exist, "travel writing" needs an outstanding style and some sort of unifying message. To be honest, I found the tone pretentious and suspect I wouldn't enjoy Morris's writing on real places. What's more, I completely failed to reassemble hundreds of references to real civilizations and personalities into any coherent theme.
Ian Brydon
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan Morris is renowned for her travel books, or, rather, her books about places to which she has travelled. (She seldom describes her journeys, viewing them simply as a means to an end). This is one of her finest, with the catch being that it is, in fact, a novel, and the slightly old fashioned, cosmopolitan city state of Hav is an entirely imaginary destination. Morris gives us some clues as to its supposed location, and I have tended to think of it as being on a peninsula extending into the Me ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, it is a kind of condensation of Jan Morris' travel experiences, and longing for other places. Some people call it dull, because Morris firmly keeps her narrative within the realm of the possible, although Hav doesn't exist, it totally feels like it could, and the experiences of the writer there are the universal experiences of travel writers. And just when you come to love this strange little town as a reader, you are forced to leave.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, fantasy
This is essentially geographical fanfiction, and Hav is a Mary Sue: visited by every important person in history, written about by every contemporary literary light, peopled by Russians and French and Chinese and Armenians and Turks and a strange cave-culture; it's got the most luminous sunsets, the most exquisite sea-urchins, the rarest berries, the strangest customs. I thought it was great fun, but I can see why some readers rate it as pointless and boring.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This library copy of the book was charmingly anachronistic, with the thicker paper that library books used to have, and a yellowed envelope in the inner page and a bunch of old due date stamps.

The book too started out very meta, knowing that it is memoir of a place that never was, but at the end I was wrapped up in the dream.
Benedict Reid
Jan's first novel. And it suffers from being the first. You can tell that the author hasn't quite worked up the courage to write a novel so instead you get a generally dull travel book for a non-existant place. There are moments of delight, but in general in is remarkable for how it manages to be such a long slow read while being physically quite small.
Catherine Siemann
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Morris, a distinguished travel writer, here shifts from fact to fiction, but creates an imagined country to which she voyages just as she did many real ones. I remembered this book as being vivid, lyrical, and rather sad, and it's all of those things still; it also holds up to postcolonial scrutiny better than I'd feared.
Mary Anne
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm enjoying this "travelogue" to a fictional Turkish city quite a bit.
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
5*. morris creates an enchanting and whimsical 5 month visit to an imaginary place. so real i went looking for it on the map and so did my sister-in-law jamie! terrific reading.
Keith Miller
LAST LETTERS FROM HAV by Jan Morris (1985)
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Jan Morris previously wrote under the name "James Morris".

Jan Morris is a British historian, author and travel writer. Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, but is Welsh by heritage and adoption. Before 1970 Morris published under her former name, "James Morris", and is known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, and