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Selected and edited by Kildare Dobbs. Toronto, Deneau, c 1986.354pp. cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-88879-119-1. CIP

Grade 11 and up
Reviewed by Esther Hutchison

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

Travel writing appeals to us on many levels. This is well illustrated by this collection of twenty-seven essays from abroad by Canadian authors, from 1843 to the present. Kildare Dobbs, who is a noled traveller and author, has assembled a varied anthology ranging from the Siberian travels of Sir George Simpson in the 1840s to a 1984 Globe and Mail piece on Darjeeling by Jerry Tutunjian. Most have appeared previously in travel articles or books; some are taken from works of fiction, e.g., "Mexico," by Malcolm Lowry. Unfortunately, although all sources are identified, it is not always clear whether the piece is fact or fiction.

The articles are arranged chronologically, with the earliest of historical interest in style, as well as content. We notice the change in the use of description over the years, presumably as the camera becomes more universal.

Often the selections tell as much about the author as the locale being described. The contract in the two views of the Paris literary scene by Mordecai Richler and Morley Callaghan illustrates this well.

Several of the selections are humorous. In one, Stephen Leacock treats London as British writers often treat our cities. Another chronicles a hilarious trail of mishaps as Harry Bruce and his wife sneeze their way through the Portuguese countryside.

This diverse and eclectic collection must contain something of interest to everyone. Students of CanLit will be especially interested in finding insights into their favourite writers, and introductions to lesser-known authors.

The muddy illustrations add little to the attractiveness of the book. Although attributed to Tony Urquhart in the publisher's release, I can find no credit for them in the book. One other distracting flaw is an unfortunate number of typographical errors, several per article.

There is no index or bibliography, although there is a table of contents. In all, this book appears to be more useful for recreational reading than for reference. I would recommend it for public libraries, but feel that its usefulness to schools would be limited.

Esther Hutchison, Spruce Grove, Alta.
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