Pillars Of Hercules

Pillars Of Hercules

Book - 1995
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
The author traces a modern version of the Grand Tour of Europe--a lively, sometimes violent journey around the shores of the Mediterranean

Book News
The acclaimed travel writer explores the cradle of civilization bordering the Mediterranean Sea, traveling by foot, bus, train, ferry, and luxury cruiser to the French Riviera, the islands of Greece, war-torn Croatia, and Egypt, where he meets Nobel laureate Naguib Mahouf recovering from an assassination attempt. He ends his journey in Tangiers, where he hunts down Beat writer Paul Bowles. No index. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Blackwell North Amer
In this modern version of the Grand Tour, Theroux sets off from Gibraltar, one of the fabled Pillars of Hercules, on a glorious journey around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a long, lively, occasionally dangerous, and endlessly fascinating trip, up the coast of Spain, along the Riviera, by ferry to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and beyond - way beyond.
By foot, train, bus, and cruise ship, Theroux travels around Italy and the Greek islands, to Albania in a state of near anarchy and to war-torn Croatia. He sails across an old sea of myths into Istanbul, its minarets, mosque domes, and obelisks beckoning him to the Levant. After hearing of Theroux's onward itinerary, a Turkish shipmate murmurs, "Gechmis olsen!" - May it be behind you! Ahead are Damascus and the remote villages of Syria, shrouded in the cult of Assad and his martyred son; Israel, besieged by suicide bombers; Egypt, where Theroux visits with Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, recovering from an assassination attempt. And past the hill that marks the southern Pillar of Hercules lie Morocco and Paul Bowles' Tangier.
Exploring coastlines as wild as anything he encountered in China or Peru, probing through layers of tradition and culture, ancient and modern, tawdry and splendid, Theroux recalls the words of his predecessors - Homer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, Carlo Levi, Lawrence Durrell - and weaves the legends and siren calls of civilizations as old as time into a tantalizing story about life on the Mediterranean today.

& Taylor

The popular author of The Great Railway Bazaar and other travelogues traces a modern version of the Grand Tour of Europe--a lively, sometimes violent journey around the shores of the Mediterranean.

Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Putnam, 1995.
ISBN: 9780399141089
Call Number: 910.91822 THE


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 30, 2018

An epic 500+ page book about Theroux's trip around the shores of the Mediterranean. Theroux is famous for "not looking away." He describes the bad with the good, and is amazingly zen about terrible food, filthy hotels, rude people, missed connections - all the things that go wrong on a trip. One of the soundbites I copied from this book: we all know that a vast proportion of travel is accumulated nuisance. I agree! Travelling is hard and often disheartening. Theroux rarely takes the easy way out, although he did do a luxurious leg of this journey on a very high-end ship, with a complimentary ticket, and loved it. But most often he's on crammed ferries and smoky buses and dirty trains, with hardly a complaint. In 1996 it seems as though everyone in the Mediterranean countries smoked constantly. I wonder if that's still the case. Anyway, Theroux is hilarious - one time he asks locals where he should go in a certain area, and they give him all kinds of ideas, including "But don't go to Sfax, there's nothing there." "So I bought a ticket to Sfax," he says. He documents an unbelievable amount of filth and garbage and poverty around the Mediterranean, and lands up in a few war zones as well, including Israel. He's pretty well unflappable but once in a while he hauls off and lets somebody have it, especially if he sees they're hurting a person or an animal, or if they've really taken advantage of him. He claims not to be that interested in historical monuments but writes about them anyway, and has a huge background of literary history to draw on for the writing of this book. He looks up some fellow authors on the trip too and these turn out to be some of the more interesting passages. I found the whole book fascinating. The only thing that slightly annoyed me was that he's SO negative about tourists, and kept insisting he wasn't one, but rather a traveler, a writer, or a curious person just nosing around. The distinction didn't make a lot of sense to me. He seems so tolerant of so many differences, but then so scornful of this pathetic creature called a tourist. It's just a small thing - he's a genius writer.

Feb 12, 2018

Very enjoyable travelogue.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at IndyPL

To Top