Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books

Overview

"Part travelogue, part ode to his bike and part literary criticism...a memoir infused with joie de vivre."—Publishers Weekly
In this "joyful book" (Booklist), archive diver and Ducati enthusiast Ted Bishop takes readers on an epic trip from Edmonton to Austin, through the classic landscapes of the American West, and to some of America's and Europe's most famous cities as he considers what it means to be a road dog and a researcher. Whether describing how he came to own a Ducati, debating the merits of D. H. ...

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Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books

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Overview

"Part travelogue, part ode to his bike and part literary criticism...a memoir infused with joie de vivre."—Publishers Weekly
In this "joyful book" (Booklist), archive diver and Ducati enthusiast Ted Bishop takes readers on an epic trip from Edmonton to Austin, through the classic landscapes of the American West, and to some of America's and Europe's most famous cities as he considers what it means to be a road dog and a researcher. Whether describing how he came to own a Ducati, debating the merits of D. H. Lawrence's novels, relishing the outlaw thrill of cruising small American towns on his bike, or holding Virginia Woolf's suicide note in the British Library, Bishop "easily blends his love of books and archives with his love of motorcycles and riding...an unusual combination...but one that ultimately works" (Library Journal). A Playboy Best Book of 2006.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
English professor Bishop trades "tweed for leather" and hurtles away from the University of Alberta (Canada) on his Ducati, which he rides south through the Western U.S. all the way to the University of Texas at Austin. His professional objective was research on Virginia Woolf's novel Jacob's Room at the UT archives of British modernist writers, but his pledge along the way was "To seek out the smallest roads possible, to avoid the direct route, to eat in mom-and-pop diners." For Bishop, riding "is an inward experience. Like reading," a parallel that loosely links the elements of this discursive but engaging account-part travelogue, part ode to his bike and part literary criticism. He temporarily abandons his Woolf scholarship for a project on Joyce's Ulysses, a venture that sidetracks him to New York City and Europe before he heads back to Austin to pick up his Ducati. The ride home ends in disaster when he wipes out at 105 mph, breaks his back in two places, but survives to walk again-and write this easygoing, romantic memoir infused with joie de vivre. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Motorcycles and books? The very title gives one pause. Not a motorcycle enthusiast, this reviewer was nonetheless quickly drawn into the story of this talented writer and the romanticism of embarking on a journey on the open road. The story centers on Bishop's (Univ. of Alberta) sabbatical to do research at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the "improbable location of the best archive in the world of British modernist writers." He received a travel grant, but there were no stipulations on the method of travel, and Bishop soon decided on "trading in his tweed for leather" and riding there. Plotting a route following small roads, he stayed or ate in mom-and-pop motels and restaurants in small towns along the way. Whether discussing Virginia Woolf or Ducatis, Bishop easily blends his love of books and archives with his love of motorcycles and riding, deftly moving from one topic to the other. His writing often takes a humorous tone, especially when he describes his efforts to present himself as a biker or people's reactions to his appearance. Readers are also treated to his insights into the landscape and culture of the United States and how they differ from those of his native Canada. This is an unusual combination of literature and travelog but one that ultimately works and is an enjoyable read. Recommended for all libraries.-Mark Alan Williams, Library of Congress Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393330748
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/5/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 835,991
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Bishop has authored books and articles on Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and modernist publishing. His writing has also appeared in Cycle Canada, Enroute, and Rider. He lives in Edmonton, Canada, and teaches at the University of Alberta.

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