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Excerpts from a Life Well-Traveled: The Jan Morris Collection of the University Libraries

Exhibit Items and Excerpts II

Manhattan (1987)

“Countless citizens of Manhattan considered themselves outside class, outside convention too, and life for such mavericks was greatly eased by the city’s fondness for individuality,” page 147.

"This is the most helpful city on earth, but the most demanding; the most tolerant but the most competitive. It is also the most intensely concentrated, and within its confines there is hardly a trade, hardly a profession, hardly a commodity, hardly a mode of business that cannot be found,” page 225.

Hong Kong (1988):

“Every Sunday morning, throughout the year, Statue Square is taken over by the Filipina maids of Hong Kong, who assemble here in their thousands to meet friends, swap news, cook al fresco meals, sell things to one another, read the Manila newspapers and sometimes dance to the music of transistors. It is an extraordinary occasion, and suggests to almost everyone an assembly of starlings,” page 104.

Venice (1960)

"Are you a Venetian?" I once asked a saintly Dominican in the church of San Zanipolo. ‘No, thank God!’ he replied, in a genuinely grateful tone of voice,” page 95.

“Venice is a seasonal city, dependent more than most upon weather and temperature. She lives for the summer, when her great tourist industry leaps into action, and in winter she is a curiously simple, homey place, instinct with melancholy, her Piazza deserted, her canals choppy and dismal,” page 203.




Islam Inflamed: A Middle East Picture (1957)

“Right in the heart of this variegated country lies the city of Baghdad, the driving force of the new Iraq. If Iraq is a country of many races, Baghdad remains uncompromisingly Arab. In the Middle Ages it was known to the Muslims as the City of Peace, and it is still one of the focal points of Arab consciousness, the only rival to Cairo as the capital of the Arab world. For at least a century Baghdad sheltered the greatest conglomeration of wealth and learning on earth; it was at once the Alexandria and the Manhattan of its time. To this day, of all the cities of Islam, it retains the most potent allure, and there are few simple citizens of the West who will not respond, if not with yearning, at least with wonder, to the old magic of its name,” page 308.