In addition to its entertainment value, The Road to Oxiana also serves as a rare account of the architectural... more
In addition to its entertainment value, The Road to Oxiana also serves as a rare account of the architectural treasures of a region now inaccessible to most Western travellers. When Paul Fussell "rediscovered" The Road to Oxiana in his recent book Abroad, he whetted the appetite of a whole new generation of readers. In his new introduction, written especially for this volume, Fussell writes: "Reading the book is like stumbling into a modern museum of literary kinds presided over by a benign if eccentric curator. Here armchair travellers will find newspaper clippings, public signs and notices, official forms, letters, diary entries, essays on current politics, lyric passages, historical and archaeological dissertations, brief travel narratives (usually of comic-awful delays and disasters), and--the triumph of the book--at least twenty superb comic dialogues, some of them virtually playlets, complete with stage directions and musical scoring." less
Reviews and Recommendations
We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Road to Oxiana from the world's leading experts.
Colin Thubron Oxiana is a coinage of his, and it doesn’t geographically specifically exist. It was a way of saying Persia (as it was to him) and Afghanistan. Byron’s journey starts in Venice and ends in what is now Pakistan. He went there in 1933-34, not long before he died in World War II, drowned when his ship was torpedoed. Although the book is terrifically chauvinistic – he’s appalling when he writes about the local people, almost always without sympathy and sometimes with extreme colonial arrogance – it’s full of wonderful descriptions. (Source)
Tim Mackintosh-Smith I recently wrote about this book and hooked what I wrote on what Chatwin said about it – that it was a sacred text – and what Wilfred Thesiger said, which was that it was a lot of nonsense. I think you can reconcile these views. It’s actually why I like the book. It’s sacred nonsense, or Robert Byron is a holy fool, if that makes sense. It’s nonsense because he sort of explodes the usual narrative of the travel book – the narrative itinerary where you go from A to B, B to C and so on. Byron is all over the shop. I think if you read his contents page, it tells you he goes to Tehran seven times... (Source)