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Why Walk?

Ann Schlee, 16 February 1984

Eight Feet in the Andes 
by Dervla Murphy.
Murray, 274 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 7195 4083 6
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West African Passage: A Journey through Nigeria, Chad and the Cameroons 
by Margery Perham, edited by A.H.M. Kirk-Greene.
Peter Owen, 245 pp., £12, September 1983, 0 7206 0609 8
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India File 
by Trevor Fishlock.
Murray, 189 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 7195 4072 0
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Castaway: A Story of Survival 
by Lucy Irvine.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 575 03340 1
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In Search of the Sahara 
by Quentin Crewe.
Joseph, 261 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2348 4
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... Why did you walk from Cajamara?’ Dervla Murphy is asked towards the end of Eight Feet in the Andes. ‘It is a long way and the roads are bad. It is possible to fly from Cajamara ... to Cuzco. It is not necessary to walk.’ The speaker has hit upon a truth about modern travellers. They are not tracing a route from the known to the unknown ...

Treating the tiger

Ian Jack, 18 February 1988

Tales from Two Cities: Travel of Another Sort 
by Dervla Murphy.
Murray, 310 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 7195 4435 1
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... Dervla Murphy made her name as a writer who got on her bike and travelled bravely and alone through the less accessible parts of the non-European world. More recently, she stayed closer to her Irish home and investigated the religious and social divisions of Northern Ireland. In this book she turns her attention to the non-European populations of two British cities, Bradford and Birmingham, and there confronts the hazards and complexities of inner-city life with the same fortitude – sometimes amounting to pig-headedness – which carried her through Baltistan, Ethiopia and the further reaches of Nepal ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Pop Poetry, 25 July 2002

... I should be reading In Siberia by Colin Thubron, or perhaps Muddling through in Madagascar by ...

Above the kissing line

E.S. Turner, 28 January 1993

My Ascent of Mont Blanc 
by Henriette d’Angeville, translated by Jennifer Barnes.
HarperCollins, 132 pp., £17.99, December 1992, 0 00 215717 9
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Backwards to Britain 
by Jules Verne, translated by Janice Valls-Russell.
Chambers, 227 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 550 23000 9
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... emotions which are too near and intimate to permit of general perusal’. According to Dervla Murphy’s preface, Henriette was a fervent royalist and the first thing she did on reaching the summit was to drink the health of the Comte de Paris in lemonade (other Alpine annalists confirm this). Of that ceremony, surprisingly, there is no ...

Hands Full of Rose Thorns and Fridge Oil

Elizabeth Lowry: ‘Triomf’, 20 January 2000

by Marlene van Niekerk, translated by Leon de Kock.
Little, Brown, 444 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 0 316 85202 3
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... firmly in the hands of English-speakers, and has remained so ever since. In South from the Limpopo Dervla Murphy records her surprise in the mid-Nineties at encountering Poor Whites, mostly Afrikaners, begging in the towns of South Africa’s four provinces. They were usually drunk or stoned, and unexpectedly numerous, ‘wandering around in rags, their ...


Graham Robb: The Tour de France, 19 August 2004

... delusion that cycling is hell is clearly not recent. In Full Tilt: Dunkirk to Delhi by Bicycle, Dervla Murphy lamented the general attitude to my conception of travelling, which I once took for granted as normal behaviour but which strikes most people as wild eccentricity, merely because it involves a certain amount of what is now regarded as hardship ...

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