This is a collection of women's travel writings, including work by Joan Didion, Edith Wharton, Mildred Cable, Willa Cather, Isak Dinesen, and others. In wry, lyrical, and sometimes wistful voices, they write of disguising themselves as men for safety, of longing for family left behind or falling in love with people met along the way, and of places as diverse as icy Himalayan passes and dusty American pioneer towns, the darkly wooded Siberian landscape and the lavender-covered hills of Provence. Yet even as their voices, experiences, and paths vary, they share with one another--and with us as readers--reflections upon their gender as it is illuminated by unfamiliar surroundings. Edited and with an Introduction by Mary Morris, in collaboration with Larry O'Connor.
Contributors and writings include: Mary Wollstonecraft, "Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark"; Flora Tristan, "Peregrinations of a Pariah"; Frances Trollope, from "Domestic Manners of the Americans"; Eliza Farnham, from "Life in Prairie Land'; Isabella Bird, from "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains"; Margaret Fountaine, from "Love Among the Butterflies"; Gertrude Bell, from "The Desert and the Sown"; Edith Wharton, from "In Morocco"; Willa Cather, from "Willa Cather in Europe'; Isak Dinesen, from "Out of Africa"; Kate O'Brien, from "Farewell Spain"; Rebecca West, from "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon"; Ella Maillart, from "The Cruel Way"; Emily Hahn, from "Times and Places"; M.F.K. Fisher, from "Long Ago in France"; Joan Didion, from "The White Album"; Christina Dodwell, from "Travels with Fortune: An African Adventure"; Annie Dillard, from "Teaching a Stone to Talk'; Gwendolyn MacEwen, from "Noman's Land".
In her introduction to this collection, Morris ( Nothing to Declare ) notes that ``women move through the world differently than men.'' She offers these 51 excerpts from the writings of intrepid women as examples of what she calls ``feminist travel writing.'' The works yield a number of diverting moments, although in many cases the brevity of the pieces makes it difficult for the reader to become engaged with the writer or the place explored. In 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu observes that Turkish attire so effectively conceals a woman's identity that she can move about in public with ``more liberty than we have.'' In the 1930s, Vivienne de Watteville tries to photograph an African rhino seconds before it charges her. In the Edwardian age, a journey on horseback in Iceland prompts Englishwoman Ethel Brilliana Tweedie to speak out for ``abolition of the side-saddle for the country, hunting, or rough journeys, for three reasons--1st, safety; 2nd, comfort; 3rd, health.'' During the Depression, Box-Car Bertha travels the United States, finding the hobo life to be remarkably varied but dangerous. During a stay in Shanghai, Emily Hahn acquires and then kicks an addiction to opium.