Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jan Morris talks about Venice

This month the books site Reading group has been discussing Jan Morris’s classic Venice. Here the legendary author responds to questions about the city’s changing culture, its disappointing food, her involvement in the first Everest ascent - and explains why we shouldn’t call her a travel writer

Well-travelled, but not a travel writer ... Jan Morris.
Well travelled, but not a travel writer ... Jan Morris. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
I’ll keep this introduction short, because I don’t want to get in the way of the main event. Here one of our finest writers answers a long series of questions about her extraordinary life and work.
The questions are made up from a combination of the themes that arose during discussions of Venice on this month’s Reading group, and some questions taken more directly from points raised by Reading group contributors.

I sent Jan Morris more than two dozen questions, thinking that she could pick and choose among those that most interested her – but she actually answered each and every one, including my opening:
On Venice

Can you remember your first sight of Venice?No, I really can’t remember it, but I’ve since introduced innumerable people to their first sights of the city, and have greatly enjoyed their almost invariable ecstasies!

How did you come to write Venice?The British Army took me to Venice at the end of the second world war, and for two months I had the duty of helping to run all the requisitioned motorboats of the city, before I went on with my regiment to Egypt and Palestine. It was the best present I ever had, a marvellous introduction to the city, and I have been attached to Venice ever since, writing four books about it plus a couple of million articles.

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