Book Reviews for the Armchair Traveler #2: DH Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia

DH Lawrence Sea and Sardinia
DH Lawrence Sea and Sardinia, image via

We interrupt these Portuguese musings for a book review!

I love traveling and I love reading: travel + books = true love forever. So, Conde Nast Traveler has an old (2007) list of the “86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time” and the list is well-thought out, if a bit odd, and reasonably comprehensive. It is now my goal to read all 86, (some of which I have already read), and provide brief reviews. The reviews will come in no particular order, mostly dictated by how easily I can get access to various books. Review #1 was of HST’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Review #2 is of DH Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia, because in case you’ve forgotten, I’m obsessed with Sardinia (which you can read about here, here, here, or here).

2. DH Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia (1921) read [slowly] over the summer in 2014.

DH Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia describes a brief mid-winter jaunt taken by the author and his wife–referred to as Queen Bee or q-b throughout–to Sardinia from their home in Sicily. The book recounts their journey by ferry to the island and their travels on Sardinia from Cagliari up into small villages in the mountains. Lawrence describes in detail the individuals they meet, the generally cold and spare inns they stay in, and the comprehensively unsatisfactory food they’re served. Lawrence makes sweeping generalizations motivated by nationalism and racism about the Sardinians he meets, but some of his bitingly insightful observations could be argued to be true of Italians to this day. The real joy of the book is in Lawrence’s oft beautiful prose that either makes you ache for travel or smile at the essential truth of it all. Like when he writes: “If one travels one eats” or particularly true for me: “Italy has given me back I know not what of myself, but a very great deal.” (I was reading on a kindle so I don’t have page numbers). If you love Sardinia (me!) you will appreciate this work, but you must have patience for DHL’s discontent and his discursive prose. This is not a linear journey, but a rewarding one.

Have you read Sea and Sardinia? Did you like it? Did you see the NYTimes article about it a few months ago? I want to go to there.

I haven’t decided what book review #3 will be. I have Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad waiting for me, but I think I need something a bit more modern. After you peruse the list do you have any suggestions?

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