Jan Morris first visited Trieste, now part of Italy, at the end of World
War II. At the time, she was a young Welsh soldier named James. She went
on to become, not only a she (Morris changed genders in 1972), but one
of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century. Jan Morris
has written more than forty books, including classics of history, travel
writing, biography, two celebrated novels, and a groundbreaking memoir
exploring the marshy terrain of gender identity. Still, ever since she
visited Trieste in the forties, she writes, "this city has curiously
haunted me." So, she chose to cap her illustrious career yes,
this is her last book with a tribute to Trieste, a once illustrious
city that today is fading and forgotten.
It is as fine a book as she has written. Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere is an extended meditation on what Morris calls the Trieste effect: "It is as though I have been taken, for a brief sententious glimpse, out of time to nowhere." But, though for Morris Trieste may feel outside of time, it has certainly played its part in history; it was, after all, once the sole port of the otherwise landlocked Austro-Hungarian empire. It has also been home to a most fascinating panoply of people: James Joyce, Sir Richard Francis Burton, etc. In Morris's capable hands, the particulars that define Trieste are fascinating. But what elevates this book above the usual "biography of place" is how skillfully Morris makes decaying, melancholy Trieste feel not so much like nowhere as everywhere. Farley, Powells.com
About the Author
Jan Morris has written more than thirty books on the British Empire, Europe, Venice, Oxford, Sydney, Hong Kong, Man-hattan and Wales, as well as six volumes of collected essays and two autobiographical works. Her novel, Last Letters from Hav, was a finalist for the Booker Prize. She is an honorary D.Litt. of the universities of Wales and Glamorgan, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). She lives in Wales.