The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

on travel writing

Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero moram, tunc istud in manus sumam. Quaedam enim sunt, quae possis et in cisio scribere. Quaedam lectum et otium et secretum desiderant.

—Seneca (Epistulae Morales, 72.1–2)1

* * *

In gaol or on a journey, every book is heaven sent, and a book that you would hesitate to open on returning from the English Club or heading out to a ball will seem as diverting to you as one of the Arabian nights if you find yourself in a prison cell or on a rapid diligence. Nay, more: in such cases, the more boring the book is, the better.

—Pushkin, ‘Thoughts on the Road/Journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg’

  1. ‘You know what happens to papyrus rolls when they become stuck together with disuse; well, I feel as if that has happened to me: my mind needs to be unrolled occasionally and its contents brought to light if they are to be available when the need arises. So let’s defer your question for the time being: it demands much effort and attention. As soon as I expect to stay in one place for a longer period, I will take it in hand. For there are some subjects one can write about even in a traveling carriage; others demand a comfortable seat, some leisure time, and freedom from distraction’ (trans. Margaret Graver & A.A. Long). []


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