From “Memory and Creation” 

“Who are the great travelers? They are curious, contented, self-sufficient people who are not afraid of the past. They are not hiding in travel; they are seeking.” 

From “Travel Writing: The Point of It” 

“A [travel] book has the capacity to express a country’s heart, as long as it stays away from vacations, holidays, sightseeing, and the half-truths in official handouts; as long as it concentrates on people in their landscape, the dissonance as well as the melodies, the contradictions and the vivid trivia–the fungi on the wet boots.” 

From “The Awkward Question” 

“‘Only animals do useful things.’ D’Aboville said at last, after a long silence. ‘An animal gets food, finds a place to sleep, tries to keep comfortable. But I wanted to do something that was not useful, not like an animal at all. Something only a human would do.'”

From “Moving Target”

“The response is so lacking in tolerance that I cannot help but think that at its source is a wild anger, a fear and frustration at being faced by a free spirit, someone who cannot be controlled.” 

From “Dead Reckoning to Nantucket” 

“It was a lovely morning, but I was already in a sunny frame of mind knowing that in order to paddle to Nantucket and camp on the way I would have to trespass and break the law. For me, the best sort of travel involves a degree of trespass.” 

“Is there any point in going across the world to eat something or buy something or watch people squatting among their ruin? Travel is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with distance or the exotic. It is almost entirely an inner experience.” 

From “Paddling to Plymouth” 

“I suppose people say those things because they don’t want to be held responsible for antoher person’s foolishness, and because they cannot imagine anyone doing something they would not do themselves.” 

From “Trespassing in Florida”

“At their best, [famous adventurers] were curious, contented, patient, courageous, and paragons of self-sufficiency. Travel, which is nearly always regarded as an attempt to escape from the ego, is in my opinion the opposite: nothing induces concentration or stimulates memory like an alien landscape or a foreign culture.” 

“A landscape looks different when you know the names for things–and, conversely, can look extremely inhospitable and alien when it seems nameless.” 

From “Study for Figures in a Landscape” 

“Official travel does not tell you what the world is like; unofficial travel, by the eavesdropper and buttonholer, does.” 

Read Fresh Air Fiend, Travel Writings by Paul Theroux. 

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