Mark Cocker   Loneliness and Time: The Story of British Travel Writing.
Pantheon, 294 pages, $23

reviewed by Alan Rutenberg

In War and Peace Tolstoy offers this description of Pierre Bezuhov imprisoned by the French army: “Here and now for the first time in his life Pierre fully appreciated the enjoyment of eating because he was hungry, of drinking because he was thirsty, of sleep because he was sleepy, of warmth because he was cold, of talking to a fellow creature because he felt like talking and wanted to hear a human voice.”

Compare Wilfred Thesiger, the great twentieth-century British Arabist and desert traveler, as he traversed the Empty Quarter of the Arabian desert in the late 1940s: “I had learnt the satisfaction which comes from hardship and the pleasure which springs from abstinence: the contentment of a full belly; the richness of meat; the taste of...

 

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