The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean

The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean

Paperback

By (author) Paul Theroux

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 198mm x 34mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 27 June 1996
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140245332
  • ISBN 13: 9780140245332
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 88,303

Product description

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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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.

Editorial reviews

With his effortless writing style, observant eye, and take-no-prisoners approach, Theroux (The Happy Isles of Oceania, 1992, etc.) is in top form chronicling this 18-month circuit of the Mediterranean. Only 15 miles separate the Pillars of Hercules at the mouth of the Mediterranean, but as is his wont, Theroux took the long way. It's the old Grand Tour route, charted by many seeking wisdom and experience. And if it was now haunted and decayed, so much the better: "Half a lifetime of traveling had given me a taste for the macabre." Theroux has a gift for the quick landscape sketch: hoofing it about the paths of Corsica, the lunarscapes of Italy's toe, the streets of a Tunisian town; but everywhere he finds people. His misanthropy is given a rest on this journey; yes, fools populate the pages, but so too do a host of dignified characters, from the ordinary joes he shares cabin space with to Naguib Mahfouz and Paul Bowles. They all make for a very immediate experience: "These sudden strange encounters . . . were much more interesting than the Roman amphitheaters and the ruins." Theroux has never been one to let pass any abrupt or truculent or stupid behavior ("several aspects of this reeking vulgarity interested me"), and it is always a pleasure when he calls a miscreant on his thuggish conduct. This contributes a snappy edge to the proceedings (Do you torture political prisoners here in Turkey? How do you feel about the Fascists coming to power in your Italian village?) and it keeps the journey fast on its feet. Theroux bestows perhaps his greatest compliment of all to the journey itself: "I knew I would go back, the way you went back to a museum, to look. . . and think." Never has he said that before. As satisfying as a glass of cool wine on a dusty Calabrian afternoon. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

The cable car to the Rock of Gibraltar; the Mare Nostrum express to Alicante; the MV Punta Europa to Majorca; the Virgen de Guadalupe express to Barcelona and beyond; Le Grand Sud to Nice; the ferry Ile de Baute to Corsica; the ferry Ichnusa to Sardinia; the ferry Torres to Sicily; the ferry - Villa to Calabria; the ferry Clodia from Chioggia; the ferry Liburnija to Zadar; the ferry Venezia to Albania; the MV Seabourne Spirit to Istanbul; the MV Akdeniz through the Levant the 7:20 express to Latakia; the ferry Sea Harmony to Greece; the ferry El-Loud III to Kerkennah; to Morocco on the ferry Boughaz.