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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 21, 1976)
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Travels create Asiatic odyssey
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Photo fowrtoay Houghton Mifflin Co.
In his novel, The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through
Asia, Paul Theroux traces his journey across Europe and
Asia and back.
silent film 'strike'
Strike, Sergei Eisentein's 1924 sileri film classic is
showing today at 1:20 pjn. at the Sheldon Memorial
Art Gallery Film Theatre.
Strike, a visual metaphor of struggling labor and heavy
industry, is replete with surrealist and constructivist
The New York Times said, 'There are all the dramatic
sight ironies that one normally thinks of as Visual,'
although they are really not visual at all. When scenes of
Cossacks on horseback surrounding seated strikers, for
example, are cross-cut with shots of a capitalist squeezing
juice from a lemon and brushing the fallen rind off his
shoe, the irony, though the film is silent, is entirely
verbal. . .
"When Eisentein's strike gathers momentum, it has to
be broken at the end or the uprising would go on into
infinity. . .
By Bill Roberts
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia, by
Paul Theroux Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, $ 1 0
All sorts of people walk this earth, so mere must be
somebody, somewhere, who wouldn't like to read Paul
Theroux's The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through
Asia. There must be somebody who wouldn't want to
read the experiences and impressions of a likable, first-rate
writer who leaves London and goes to Japan, by way of
Turkey, India and Singapore? then across Siberia and back
to London almost entirely by train.
But it's hard to imagine anyone so mean and dull. This
book is full of treasures.
Consider a reader with no desire to learn about a ride
on the once fabulous, now decrepit, Orient Express. That
reader can thumb through the table of contents until he
finds a chapter like "The Local to Maymyo.
Then he can check the map on the book's inside cover
to decide if he wants to read about a short, semi-legal
excursion into the jungles of Burma. If he does, he will
join the author in the last car of a picturesque train, with
an armed guard on one side and a local man smoking
opium on the other.
But the reader who skips the Orient Express will miss
Paris, Venice and Istanbul, with its fresco of the Virgin
Mary that looks like Virginia WooJf.
He also will not meet Molesworth, Theroux's impromp
tu traveling companion for the European part of the trip.
Molesworth, an actor's agent from Britain, likes to cuddle
into a window seat with a bottle of Chablis and comment
on the passing world.
The Great Railway Bazaar should be read from begin
ning to end, and not simply to avoid missing an episode.
Theroux is a novelist, and he shapes his book so that, by
the end, the reader is almost homesick.
"Travel writing," Theroux reflects while in a speedy
Japanese train, "which cannot but be droll at the outset,
moves from journalism to fiction, arriving as promptly as
the Kodama Echo at autobiography."
Dinner on the diner
After a dreary trek across Iranian deserts, and after
being forced to fly over most of Afghanistan (Theroux
hates planes as much as he loves trains), green and luscious
Pakistan offers relief to his dusty disposition. He even
starts singing, "Dinner on the diner, nothing could be
But soon the incredible poverty of India and Sri Lanka
depresses him again. Then the trip through Burma exhila
rates him and a stopover in Singapore awakens memories
of the three years he spent teaching there.
After this emotional roller coaster ride, the author
visits Vietnam. Here he describes a view seen from the
train traveling from Saigon to Hue in December 1973:
"Over there, the sun lighted a bomb scar in the forest;
and next to it smoke filled the bowl of a valley; a column
of rain from' one fugitive cloud slanted on another slope,
and the blue gave way to black green, to rice green on the
fiat fields of shoots, which became, after a strip of sand,
an immensity of blue ocean. The distances were enormous
and the landscape was so large it had to be studied in
parts, like a mural seen by a child."
We hadn't planned to stay
Theroux's comments on wreckage left by Americans in
Vietnam are sad and beautiful. "The tragedy," he says,
"was that we had come, and, from the beginning, had not
planned to stay."
Then Theroux gives a picture of Japan that resembles a
Brave New World, but funny. "Everything works: the
place spins with polite invention," he says. He meets a
Japanese author, Edogawa Rampo, who models his tales
of terror, and his name, after Edgar Allan Poe.
The 6,000-mile trip on the Trans-Siberian Express
passes with a whoosh, for Theroux has completed his
travel-novel, if not his trip.
Anyone who likes top-notch writing and wonders what
an Asiatic odyssey would be like, will love The Great
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