Nicolas Bouvier: ‘Switzerland’s Answer to Jack Kerouac’

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  06.05.07 | 1:53 PM ET

imageThat’s some high praise, and it’s Rory MacLean’s take on the Swiss writer who died in 1998. An English translation of Bouvier’s book “The Way of the World,” about the 19 months the author spent traveling through Europe and Asia with a friend in a Fiat in the 1950s, has just been published in the UK.

Writing in the Guardian recently, MacLean calls the new translation “the most important event in travel literature this year.”

(Amazon lists a copy by the same translator, Robyn Marsack, published in 1994.)

MacLean writes: “Racy and meditative, romantic and realistic, the book is as brilliant as Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts, but with its erudition more lightly worn and as alive as Kerouac’s On the Road, though without a whisper of self-aggrandisement.”

Never heard of Bouvier? On the European continent, MacLean writes, he is “as influential as Jack Kerouac and Bruce Chatwin.”

Related on World Hum:
* No. 25: ‘A Time of Gifts’ by Patrick Leigh Fermor
* No. 12: ‘The Songlines’ by Bruce Chatwin
* Happy Anniversary ‘On the Road’
* MacLean: ‘Travellers Have Poisoned Tradition and Helped to Pervert the Unique Into the Mundane’

4 Comments for Nicolas Bouvier: ‘Switzerland’s Answer to Jack Kerouac’

jv 06.05.07 | 5:37 PM ET

I read the earlier translation, and this is indeed a fantastic book.

Also worth checking out by Bouvier (in English): “The Japanese Chronicles.” If you can find a copy, that is ...

Jamie Lockhart Giles 06.07.07 | 7:19 AM ET

A new edition of ‘The Way of the World’, complete with Bouvier’s companion Thierry Vernet’s illustrations, is available direct from Eland Publishing here:

Priscilla Constance Atkinson 09.24.07 | 5:54 PM ET

This is an amazing book beautifully written and one is with the travellers in all their troubles as well as their good moments I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is of particular interest at the moment as it gives an insight into the minds of the middle eastern inhabitants.  I thoroughly recommend it.

Jackie York 02.18.08 | 10:55 AM ET

Bouvier’s book, The Japanese Chronicles is being republished by Eland Books in early May 2008.

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