The Pillars of Hercules

The Pillars of Hercules : A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean

By (author) Paul Theroux


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At the gateway to the Mediterranean lie the two Pillars of Hercules: Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. Paul Theroux decided to travel from one to the other - but taking the long way round. His grand tour of the Mediterranean begins in Gibraltar and takes him through Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul and beyond. He travels by any means necessary - including dilapidated taxi, smoke-filled bus, bicycle and even a cruise-liner. And he encounters bullfights, bazaars and British tourists, discovers pockets of humanity in war-torn Slovenia and Croatia, is astounded by the urban developments on the Costa del Sol and marvels at the ancient wonders of Delphi. Told with Theroux's inimitable wit and style, this lively and eventful tour evokes the essence of Mediterranean life.

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  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 34mm | 399.16g
  • 27 Jun 1996
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • maps
  • 0140245332
  • 9780140245332
  • 95,536

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Author Information

Paul Theroux's books include The Last Train to Zona Verde, Dark Star Safari, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Elephanta Suite, A Dead Hand, The Tao of Travel and The Lower River. The Mosquito Coast and Dr Slaughter have both been made into successful films. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands. His most recent work is Deep South.

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Review text

Although his humour and eloquence are often praised, Theroux has taken a few critical left jabs of late. Some critics say he is insensitive and inclined to various harsh judgements. C'mon, that's the joy of it. I write travel books. I know a dozen other folks who make their livings in the same way. If you got us all together over a few drinks, you'd hear a lot of discordant talk about various countries, and certain individuals living in them. Theroux says these things in public. He's honest about his perceptions and feelings: that's what makes him dangerous, and commendable and compulsively readable. Perpetually fleeing the horrors of the dreaded tourist, Theroux travels around the Mediterranean sampling life on the coast in low season, and - of course - never travelling by air. His musings are typically lofty and cynical, yet equally perceptive. He admits to admiring Evelyn Waugh's vicious judgments and agrees that 'satire is usually more purposeful than veneration'. The result is a unique but comprehensible survey of many cultures, climates, beautiful and not-so-beautiful places. (Kirkus UK)

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