Tag: praise

In praise of Jan Morris, by six fellow travel writers



Jan Morris sitting on a table: Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Pico Iyer



Jan Morris sitting on a table: Jan Morris photographed at her home in Wales in early 2020.


© Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer
Jan Morris photographed at her home in Wales in early 2020.

Jan Morris was a dazzling historian who was constantly fascinated by the new. She could throw off precise and stunningly compact reports – on the trial of Eichmann or her interview with Che Guevara, for this paper and many others – and then compose 30-page master portraits of cities for Rolling Stone. She was mellifluous and mischievous at once, and perhaps an ideal chronicler of the 20th century, as a classical Brit who nonetheless sustained an undeluded love for brash and forward-looking America. Thousands of us recognised the beauty of her watercolour prose, but what gave it fibre was its unsurpassable acuity. London for her was “hard as nails,” Kyoto a city of ghosts.

Her command of the past was compendious enough to disclose the future. By the 1970s she was detecting a slightly disquieting global tomorrow in Singapore; in 1984, she saw how Toronto was offering a fresh kind of multiculturalism. She never stooped to the prosaic diary entries of travel writers, but urged us rather towards impressionist canvasses worthy of Hazlitt or Virginia Woolf. While closely perusing the phone directories of a city, she somehow gave us its soul.



a small boat in a body of water with a city in the background: The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas in Trieste, Italy. Photograph: Image Professionals/Alamy


© Provided by The Guardian
The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas in Trieste, Italy. Photograph: Image Professionals/Alamy

As a teenager coming of age near London, I schooled myself on her sentences, not only because she offered a vision of living an unaffiliated, roaming life, but also because she kept herself out of the picture, yet infused every intricate clause with a sense of fun, of rigour, of independent-mindedness. Her Pax Britannica trilogy endures because Jan embodied much of the curiosity and erudition, the sympathy towards other cultures, that was the best part of Britain abroad; yet she never hesitated to expose empire’s cruelties and hypocrisies. Her meditation on Trieste pierces because in this haunted, wistful place that doesn’t quite belong anywhere, she seemed to be giving us a glimpse of herself, a solitary “Welsh republican” who could feel equally at home almost everywhere.

Anyone who wrote on place soon found that Jan exemplified the kindness she extolled, training her gift for enthusiasm and affection on every last upstart who approached her. I can still see her zipping around California in a blue Mustang convertible – to seek out some old dogs of empire – and investigating a Palm Pilot with a genuine excitement that showed me why she would never become stodgy. The last time I wrote to her was for her 94th birthday this October. As every year, I reminded her, mistress of the telling detail, that she shared her special day with (could it be more fitting?) Graham Greene and Mohandas Gandhi.

• Pico Iyer’s two new books on Japan, Autumn Light (£14.99) and A Beginner’s Guide to Japan (£8.99), are out in paperback (published by Bloomsbury).

Marcel Theroux

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In praise of Jan Morris, by six fellow travel writers | Literary trips

Pico Iyer

Jan Morris was a dazzling historian who was constantly fascinated by the new. She could throw off precise and stunningly compact reports – on the trial of Eichmann or her interview with Che Guevara, for this paper and many others – and then compose 30-page master portraits of cities for Rolling Stone. She was mellifluous and mischievous at once, and perhaps an ideal chronicler of the 20th century, as a classical Brit who nonetheless sustained an undeluded love for brash and forward-looking America. Thousands of us recognised the beauty of her watercolour prose, but what gave it fibre was its unsurpassable acuity. London for her was “hard as nails,” Kyoto a city of ghosts.

Her command of the past was compendious enough to disclose the future. By the 1970s she was detecting a slightly disquieting global tomorrow in Singapore; in 1984, she saw how Toronto was offering a fresh kind of multiculturalism. She never stooped to the prosaic diary entries of travel writers, but urged us rather towards impressionist canvasses worthy of Hazlitt or Virginia Woolf. While closely perusing the phone directories of a city, she somehow gave us its soul.

Trieste
Trieste

As a teenager coming of age near London, I schooled myself on her sentences, not only because she offered a vision of living an unaffiliated, roaming life, but also because she kept herself out of the picture, yet infused every intricate clause with a sense of fun, of rigour, of independent-mindedness. Her Pax Britannica trilogy endures because Jan embodied much of the curiosity and erudition, the sympathy towards other cultures, that was the best part of Britain abroad; yet she never hesitated to expose empire’s cruelties and hypocrisies. Her meditation on Trieste pierces because in this haunted, wistful place that doesn’t quite belong anywhere, she seemed to be giving us a glimpse of herself, a solitary “Welsh republican” who could feel equally at home almost everywhere.

Anyone who wrote on place soon found that Jan exemplified the kindness she extolled, training her gift for enthusiasm and affection on every last upstart who approached her. I can still see her zipping around California in a blue Mustang convertible – to seek out some old dogs of empire – and investigating a Palm Pilot with a genuine excitement that showed me why she would never become stodgy. The last time I wrote to her was for her 94th birthday this October. As every year, I reminded her, mistress of the telling detail, that she shared her special day with (could it be more fitting?) Graham Greene and Mohandas Gandhi.

Marcel Theroux

My introduction to the travel writing of the late Jan Morris was her book Venice, which was first published 60 years ago. Despite the passage of so much time, it retains an extraordinary freshness – a clue, I think, to her genius as a travel writer. The book is the fruit of a long and passionate relationship with the city. By the time she revised it for

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Proposed Winter Park hotel on Lake Killarney draws ire and praise from the neighborhood

WINTER PARK — Developer Adam Wonus wants to build the Henderson Hotel, a five-story luxury lodging on the banks of Winter Park’s Lake Killarney beside the Hillstone Restaurant where he proposed to his wife 10 years ago.

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But not all of the people who live in the neighborhood around the lake agree with Wonus’ vision for the property.

“It’s residential,” said 25-year resident Nort Northam sitting in his chair by the lake. “We’re not Kissimmee, and we’re not International Drive, and that’s what they’re trying to make us into.”

The latest plans for the project, which was pulled a year ago for revisions, will get their first public hearing at Winter Park’s Planning & Zoning Board meeting on Dec. 1. Residents, both for and against the hotel, are gearing up for a challenge.

“This is Winter Park,” said the city’s director of planning and community development Bronce Stephenson. “You always get a pretty good-sized group who are for things and a pretty good-sized group who are against things.”

The hotel on the block from U.S. Highway 17-92 to the lake between Beachview and Fairview Avenues would feature 132 rooms, a 220-seat restaurant and a 7,500-square-foot ballroom and meeting space.

Wonus, owner and CEO of Atrium Management, sees the project as connecting to the history of Winter Park.

“The city was founded at a lakefront hotel,” he said, referring to an 1882 gala at the Rogers House Inn that the city adopted as its founding date.

Wonus, 37, said the stretch of 17-92 between Lee Road and Fairbanks Avenue was once home to more than 30 motels and lodges. Working with architect Baker Barrios, who designed The Alfond Inn for Rollins College, Wonus said he has tried to capture some of the classic Winter Park style.

“The hotel has some really unique elements that play to the history of Winter Park,” Stephenson said. “The architecture is a bit of a throwback. It’s definitely not modern architecture.”

But Jeanne Wall, who owns two homes on the northwest side of the lake, says these appeals to history are a ploy to sell the hotel to the public at the expense of the character of the neighborhood.

“It’s too big an ask,” she said. “They shouldn’t even be considering it.”

According to the public notice on the hearings, the project would require amendments to the Comprehensive Plan for future land use for the site. While the part of the property along 17-92 is already zoned commercial, three lots along the lake would have to be changed from residential use. It would also require a height variance for going over the city’s maximum of four stories in the area.

Neighbor Dave Sutphin, whose house is a block from the proposed site, said he would be happy for the change.

“My wife and I are both very significant proponents of what Adam is trying to do,” he said.

Sutphin says the block is currently a blight on the area. Only one of the houses

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