Journey without Maps

Journey without Maps


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His mind crowded with vivid images of Africa, Graham Greene set off in 1935 to discover Liberia, a remote and unfamiliar republic founded for released slaves. Now with a new introduction by Paul Theroux, Journey Without Maps is the spellbinding record of Greene's journey. Crossing the red-clay terrain from Sierra Leone to the coast of Grand Bassa with a chain of porters, he came to know one of the few areas of Africa untouched by colonization. Western civilization had not yet impinged on either the human psyche or the social structure, and neither poverty, disease, nor hunger seemed able to quell the native spirit.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143039723
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/27/2006
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 537,839
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991), whose long life nearly spanned the length of the twentieth century, was one of its greatest novelists. Educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford, he started his career as a sub-editor of The Times of London. He began to attract notice as a novelist with his fourth book, Orient Express, in 1932. In 1935, he trekked across northern Liberia, his first experience in Africa, recounted in A Journey Without Maps (1936). He converted to Catholicism in 1926, an edifying decision, and reported on religious persecution in Mexico in 1938 in The Lawless Roads, which served as a background for his famous The Power and the Glory, one of several “Catholic” novels (Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair). During the war he worked for the British secret service in Sierra Leone; afterward, he began wide-ranging travels as a journalist, which were reflected in novels such as The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, The Comedians, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, The Human Factor, Monsignor Quixote, and The Captain and the Enemy. In addition to his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, two books of autobiography—A Sort of Life and Ways of Escape—two biographies, and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays and film and book reviews to The Spectator and other journals, many of which appear in the late collection Reflections. Most of his novels have been filmed, including The Third Man, which the author first wrote as a film treatment. Graham Greene was named Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit among numerous other awards.

Paul Theroux, an internationally acclaimed travel writer, is also the author of over two dozen novels and works of non-fiction. He divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian Islands.

Date of Birth:

October 2, 1904

Date of Death:

April 3, 1991

Place of Birth:

Berkhamsted, England

Place of Death:

Vevey, Switzerland


Balliol College, Oxford

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Journey Without Maps 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Stbalbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Graham Greene is a famous 20th C novelist ("The Orient Express") who also wrote a few non-fiction travel accounts. This is his first, when he was 31 years old and left Europe for the first time, in order to experience the uncivilized "dark heart of Africa" by traveling through the back country of Liberia in 1935. It was a 4-week, 350-mile walk, mostly through an unchanging tunnel forest path, ending each day in a primitive village. He had about a dozen black porters who would carry him in a sling, although he walked much of the way.It's written with a very "old school" perspective, with one foot in the 19th (or 18th) century of romantic colonial imperialism, and one foot in the pre-war 1930s perspective of deterioration, rot and things falling apart. Heavy whiskey drinking, descriptions of the festering diseases of the natives, and plethora of bothersome insects, the run down European outposts and a motley cast of white rejects fill many descriptive pages. It reminds me a lot of Samuel Johnson's "Journals of the Western Isles" (1770s) when Johnson, who had never left England in his life, decided to go to Scotland to see what uncivilized people were like. Just as Johnson brought Boswell who would go on to write his own version of the trip, Greene brought his female cousin Barbara Greene (who remains unnamed in the book and largely unmentioned), who went on to write her own version of the trip in the 1970s called "Too Late to Turn Back", which mostly contradicts Grahams version.I can't say I totally enjoyed this book, I found Greene's attitude irritating - but therein lies its value, as a snapshot of prewar European zeitgeist. It is reminiscent of "Kabloona" (1940), another prewar travel account to an uncivilized place (Arctic Eskimos) by a young European aristocrat, who also is deeply inward looking and finds a new perspective and appreciation for the "cave man" people he meets. It's very much a transition period between prewar and post-war attitudes and the fluctuation's back and forth, the sense of things falling apart, but also new-found perspective, make it a challenging but interesting work.
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another of the "100 greatest adventure book" that I found it impossible to get through -- I abandoned Greene's book when I was three-quarters of the way through after realizing it wouldn't get much better.I found Greene's general attitude toward those he met on his walk across Liberia and his treatment of his porters to be really irritating. Nothing much of interest happens on his walk across the country either. A grating narrator and a tepid account of what should have been a grand adventure helps make this book extremely dull.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good desciptive account of traveling through the jungles of Liberia and experiencing the hospitality of the different tribes. The accounts of the night crawlers when one turns off the light in the Liberian countryside was particularly revealing, made me thankful I live where I live. I was also struck by a thought that maybe the reason why African life expectancy and poverty are more related to climate and the neighborhood, then maybe they can control.
klai on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From a modern viewpoint, it's difficult to penetrate the thinking of a period when the African interior was still (to some extent) black on contemporary maps, and when an enlightened understanding of multiculturalism was not the norm. So Greene trekking through the jungles of Liberia, clearly not enjoying the process, and finding it difficult to understand what propels himself through it, is, I think, a bit of a tackle for the modern reader. Greene is much more at ease with the trappings of civilization, something which is clear in the descriptions of local, national and international politics in the book. At any rate, the book is an interesting depiction of a moment in time, and definitely a worthwhile read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago