A book for lovers of all things Italian--an homage to the city of Trieste
Trieste. This history-drenched city on the Adriatic has always tantalized Jan Morris with its moodiness and changeability. After visiting Trieste for more than half a century, she has come to see it as a touchstone for her interests and preoccupations: cities, seas, empires. It has even come to reflect her own life in its loves, disillusionments, and memories. Her meditation on Trieste is characteristically layered with history and glows with stories of famous visitors from James Joyce to Sigmund Freud.
A lyrical travelogue, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere is also superb cultural history and the culmination of a singular career--"an elegant and bittersweet farewell" (Boston Globe).
With fluid, expressive prose, Welsh writer Morris (Lincoln) delivers an intriguing vision of the small seaside Italian city of Trieste. In an account that is part detailed history, part melancholy remembrance, Morris offers a vivid and loving description of a place and an eloquent reflection on growing old. In this slim volume, supposedly Morris's last, the author brilliantly weaves historic and personal memories (as the soldier James Morris, before her sex-change operation, she was stationed there during WWII), observations on love, lust, nationalism, exile and kindness, and a tender portrait of the oft-forgotten city. From glory to exile, from affluence to desertion, Morris shares the city's triumphs and hardships as one would the life story of an old and well-loved friend with affection, respect and a cheerful acceptance of little personality quirks. Tossed between Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia and finally back to Italy, Trieste, once one of the greatest port cities in the world, is now a sleepy town on the "end of its Italian umbilical." Morris writes, "So it is with me, after a lifetime of describing the planet, and I look at Trieste now as I would look into a mirror.... Much of this little book, then, has been a self-description." Populated with the well-drawn ghosts of such luminaries as James Joyce, Sir Richard Francis Burton and other "exiles" who made the city their home for a time, Morris's "little book" is as exuberant as it is bittersweet, as resigned as it is wistful.