The Great Railway Bazaar

English language

Published May 2, 2006


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4 stars (1 review)

The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia is a travelogue by American novelist Paul Theroux, first published in 1975. It recounts Theroux's four-month journey by train in 1973 from London through Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and his return via the Trans-Siberian Railway. The first part of the route, to India, followed what was then known as the hippie trail. It is widely regarded as a classic in the genre of travel writing. It sold 1.5 million copies upon release.In the book, Theroux explored themes such as colonialism, American imperialism, poverty, and ignorance. These were embedded in his accounts of sights and sounds he experienced as well as his conversation with other people such as his fellow travelers. It included elements of fiction such as descriptions of places, situations, and people, reflecting the author's own thoughts and outlook. Contemporaneous reviews noted how his background …

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Review of 'The Great Railway Bazaar' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I love Theroux's rambling architecture. It's a frantic bit of Dylan Thomas-like prose, touching here and moving to the next before any significant revelation has sunk in. He's definitely someone I want to read but he's not someone I want sharing my train compartment for 6,000 miles across the Soviet Union.

On one hand, this barely seems like travel lit to me. It is about travelers more than locales - his description of the many stops along the path are brief interludes to break up the conversations with the other tourists or to shake him out of daydream rhapsodies. Travel is about travelers in this book, even though Theroux hints at intimacy with each stop that might make you think that place is first in his heart. On the other hand, why couldn't that be exactly what travel is about? The destination is the train. Its passengers are the colorful …