The Waugh of Travel

It’s time again, dear friends, to review travel wisdom from writers for the ages. This time, it’s from Evelyn Waugh, widely considered one of the best travel writers of his generation and the author of such great works as Black Mischief, Scoop (my personal favorite) and When the Going Was Good. I’ve blatantly lifted these quotes from Paul Theroux’s Tao of Travel, which has quickly become a boon companion of mine.

So without further preamble, Waugh on traveling:

One does not travel, any more than one falls in love, to collect material. It is simply part of one’s life. For myself, and many better than I, there’s a fascination in distant and barbarous places, and particularly in the borderlands of conflicting cultures and states of development, where ideas, uprooted from their traditions, become oddly changed in transplantation. It is here that I find experiences vivid enough to demand translation into literary form.

Ninety-Two Days (1934)

To have travelled a lot, to have spent, as I have done, the first twelve years of adult life on the move, is to this extent a disadvantage. At the age of thirty-five one needs to go to the moon, or somesuch place, to recapture the excitement with which one first landed at Calais.

When the Going Was Good (1947)

My own traveling days are over, nor do I expect to see many travel books in the near future. When I was a reviewer, they used, I remember, to appear in batches of four or five a week, cram-full of charm and wit and enlarged Leica snapshots. There is no room for tourists in a world of “displaced persons”. Never again, I suppose, shall we land on foreign soil with a letter of credit and passport (itself the first faint shadow of the great cloud that envelopes us) and feel the world wide open before us.

When the Going Was Good

And finally:

When we have been home from abroad for a week or two, and time after time, in answer to our friends’ polite inquiries, we have retold our experiences, letting phrase engender phrase, until we have quite made a good story of it all; when the unusual people we have encountered have, in retrospect, become fabulous and fantastic, and all the checks and uncertainties of travel have become very serious dangers; when the minor annoyances assume heroic proportions and have become, at the luncheon-table, barely endurable privations; even before that, when in the later stages of our journey we reread in our diaries the somewhat bald chronicle of the preceding months—how very little attention do we pay, among all these false frights and bogies, to the stark horrors of boredom.

Remote People (1931)

Seriously. Read Waugh. Your soul will thank you for it.

Image courtesy of Chris Allbritton

4 Comments on “The Waugh of Travel

  1. Pingback: Waugh Abroad The Collected Travel Writing

  2. Just pre-ordered Scoop (ebook) from B&N.

  3. I’ve always intended to read Waugh… now seems like a perfect time.