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Journey Without Maps
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Graham Greene > Pre-Reading of Journey w/o Maps

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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Journey without Maps concerns Graham Greene's travels by boat and over land in 1935 through Liberia. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the lands of Sierra Leone, French Guinea, and the Ivory Coast, the area he observed was unique in its never having been colonized by Western governments.

The opening epigraphs come from W.H. Auden's second stanza of a poem "O Where Are You Going?" and from "Life and letters of Oliver Wendell Holmes", Volume 1, chapter 2.


message 2: by Barbarac (new) - added it

Barbarac (bcb72) I ordered this and should start reading next week.


message 3: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Wonderful, Barbarac, Looking forward to a great conversation. I've read some novels about West Africa and its eighteenth- to nineteenth-century Brazilian connection. I'm familiar with another of his books The Heart of the Matter. The outstanding reviews about Journey without Maps are an inspiration to read his story.


message 4: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Wikipedia says that the first edition of Journey without Maps was in 1936. Greene's book, however, has a nice map, which traces the mapless journey he made with his cousin Barbara Greene and with their guides in 1935, walking 4-weeks across 350-miles from a British post in Sierra Leone through the interior of Liberia and the inside edge of French Guinea to Grand Bassa and Monrovia on the Atlantic Ocean. He nearly died before the journey's end. In 2009, Tim Butcher and David Poraj-Wilczynski retraced his trip.


Marieke | 58 comments i got this from the library so i'm hoping to join in too. :)


message 6: by Barbarac (new) - added it

Barbarac (bcb72) I love books that have maps.


message 7: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Welcome, Marieke. Nice to see you. Great fun :)


message 8: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Barbarac, I too enjoy gazing into the labyrinth of a map's contours; that differs from the map's utility. This book's map seems very handy. Ever wonder where Greene's The Human Factor and The Power and the Glory are set? These are not exactly labyrinths but are interesting. http://mapsoftheclassics.blogspot.com/


message 9: by Barbarac (new) - added it

Barbarac (bcb72) Asma wrote: "Barbarac, I too enjoy gazing into the labyrinth of a map's contours; that differs from the map's utility. This book's map seems very handy. Ever wonder where Greene's The Human Factor and The Power..."

Asma, that is the best blog I've seen in a long time! Thank you so much for posting it! Now I don't have to constantly google locations for books, I can just look them up here. Specially in classic books, when they travel, I'm curious about distances since they didn't have cars back then.


message 10: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Barbarac, it is a good blog. I don't know whether you will find all the books' settings you are looking for in it. It is very limited in that respect. I, too, have wondered about some books like Moby-Dick, set in places on the high seas before our era.


message 11: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments This preview and interpretation, "The Modern Psychological Journey: Graham Greene" in Travel Writing, chapter 4, by Casey Blanton, distills what Greene was doing in "Journey w/o Maps". With a few spoilers, it places Greene's published journey in the perspective of its time, its genre, and its subjective orientation.


message 12: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments My summary of John Airey's article "...Fascination of the Abomination":

Reading this interpretive article about Graham Greene's "Journey without Maps", I feel a bit more informed about the imminent reading of Greene's travelogue, which is apparently not without its share of horrific acts, some of its "abominations" being sometimes repressed into mere "transgressions". Journey without Maps opens with the British government's publication "Blue Book" of Liberia. No direct moral stand is taken in that guide's listing, but it might be written between the lines of its descriptions of public health, rampant diseases, war crimes, and social "sins", those primitive conditions, supposedly prior to belief in Christian ideals.

There's also comparisons to Greene's hypotexts--Freud's theory of the id and Conrad's story The Heart of Darkness. Greene apparently chose uncomfortable, unmapped Liberia for a journey as a metaphor of his curiosity to explore his subconsciousness, if he can look face-to-face at reality without turning away from it or disguising it, like a simultaneously fascinating and repelling "gangster movie". His curiosity to explore the subconscious is in addition to another metaphor to interpret the "text" of the country.

Greene's narrative might ultimately depict a subjective, "falsified reality", the "plurality of raw material" not being neatly pigeonholed:
"...the attempt to impose order on original chaos is the point at which "we went astray". Cerebration could therefore be defined as thought based on the delusion or the wish to believe that order can justifiably, in terms of truth and not expediency, be imposed on experience."
For example, in his taking in all of the physical impressions about Colonel Davis, the narrator Greene does not unreservedly see someone who would commit atrocities but Greene does communicate more of the truth than the Blue Book's description does, to "give voice to what the Blue Book refuses to say".

Source: John AIREY, « Graham Greene’s Journey Without Maps and the Fascination of the Abomination », E-rea [En ligne], 7.1 | 2009, mis en ligne le 15 juillet 2009, consulté le 12 septembre 2012. URL : http://erea.revues.org/849


message 13: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Greene's is not the only account of traveling through Liberia around that era. I came across an article about Esther Warner Dendel, an artist-writer, who went there in the 1940s with her botanist-husband's job, though he'd apparently also chosen Liberia because of her studies of African art and crafts. Susan L. Blake compared Greene's and Warner's versions about traveling through Liberia--Greeene's "Journey without Maps" (1935) being the more "aloof" and "inwardly nostalgic for a primitive era" and Warner's "Seven Days to Lomaland" (1954) being the more engaged to learn from and to share in the society.

Source: Susan L. Blake, "Research in African Literatures", Vol. 22, No. 2 (Summer, 1991), pp. 191-203. Similar titles about Warner's African experience are "New Song in a Strange Land" (1948), a phrase she uses in "Seven Days...", and "The Crossing Fee" (1968). There also is "You Cannot Unsneeze a Sneeze & Other Tales from Liberia" (1995).


message 14: by Betty (last edited Oct 05, 2012 10:25AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments I came across a formerly owned library's copy of Jw/oM, part of a collected series of his writing. It's the Heinemann & Bodley Head edition of 1978, with a one-page "Preface to Second Edition" by Greene himself. There's sixteen b/w photographs in the book. I returned the borrowed one to pick up reading this illustrated one.


Marieke | 58 comments Asma wrote: "I came across a formerly owned library's copy of Jw/oM, part of a collected series of his writing. It's the Heinemann & Bodley Head edition of 1978, with a one-page "Preface to Second Edition" by G..."

LUCKY! i want to see photographs. i will have to check the collection at work next week to see what i can dig up. the copy i'm reading does not have photos.


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