From Peter Fleming: “It occurs to me that there is too much grumbling in this book. I am trying to give an honest account of this journey, but perhaps fidelity to the facts unwittingly distorts the picture, misapplies the emphasis, fails to reflect past reality (…)”
And he continues
“(…) when I try to recall what I have written, the pages seem loud with complaint; the winds, the delays, the monotony, the long stages, the tedious fare, these and many other factors, even if not explicitly inveighed against, must be building up for you a picture of a hard life in an unkind world. This picture is a false one”
(…) “days when we rode or walked for hours, singly or together, filled with contentment at our lot. The sun shone, the mountains were alluring at our left, and we remembered the virtues of desolation and felt keenly the compensations of a nomad life”.
And yes, Peter is right, his book, and also Ella’s, describe the troubles of the travel, the monotony, but, with these details, they enlighten the not-said. For example, when Ella explains the stage from Nomo-Kanthara to Gorumu, she says that, as they rode Northwest, her sole distraction for hours was to look at the displacement of the shadow of Slalom’s head going from the left to the right side of his neck. And we do not need to make an effort of imagination to feel the loneliness of riding for days on an empty space. These small details conform, like in dot-painting, the whole picture
It happens often, small details convey messages to whoever wants to read them. Like this photograph, of three gondolieri taking a rest in a winter day, describes another Venice than the one we are used to visit.
Or the front one, the cosmopolitism of Paris, in front of Beaubourg
Photo Credit: Author