You might have noticed: Jan Morris is one of my heroes.
Her latest book returns to her mythical, mystical Hav, where “Chopin, for example, when he came here with George Sand in 1839 after their unhappy holiday in Majorca . . . rented a house in the Armenian quarter of the Old City and briefly took Armenian lessons with the city trumpeter of the day. On the other hand James Joyce spent nearly all his time at the Cafe Munchen, the famous writers’ haunt on Bundstrasse, while Richard Burton the explorer, as one might expect, went entirely Arab, strode around the city in burnous and golden dagger…”
Salley Vickers’ review in The Times explores Hav, but also pays tribute to lifetime of travel, and some of the finest writing about place – and people – that has ever blessed us:
Of all the qualities that Morris values, she places kindness first. Kindness has the same root as kin. To be kind is to recognise kinship, that we are all, in essence, of the same kind. We are lucky to have Jan Morris, and her gift of transporting us to other realms, and other, apparently foreign, sensibilities to aid us in this lifesaving understanding.