Merry Wanderer of the Night + trieste

Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere

Jan Morris' Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere

is a travelog of the city Trieste. Trieste is a place for those who are exiled and Morris is fascinated by the "nowhereness" of the place. It has had many famous inhabitants, including James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, and Richard Burton. It is on the far northeast side of Italy, and as Morris points out, very few people in Italy actually know Trieste is there. The travelog weaves between Morris' own experience and Trieste and the ancient history of the city, as well as stories from the famous people who have lived there.

I was set up to dislike Trieste for two reasons, the first is that I hate Italy, the second is that I hate travel writing that moves away from the narrator's experience. I didn't hate Trieste, but I wouldn't say it is my favorite book I have read. Some parts are beautiful. Morris has been to Trieste several times and has a keen eye for small parts of life. She is also willing to admit she messed up when she judges something wrong, while some authors wouldn't include it she does and I admire her for that. What I didn't like about this book is that on page it will be present day and the next page it will be 1382. Perhaps I wasn't reading carefully enough, but I really struggled with the movement back and forth.

It's a quick read if you're interested in Italy or travel writing in general. It is the first travelog I have read that talked more about how everything is different within the city rather than how everything is different from where they came from. Demographically, Trieste is very unique because it is so close to Slovenia. The population is made up of Italians, Croations, Slovenes, Romanians, and people that have fled their country. It truly does have a fascinating history so read the book if you can keep up with the constant changes in time.

Pub. Date: August 2002
Publisher: Da Capo
Format: Paperback, 212pp

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