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Labels - a Mediterranean Journal Hardcover – 1930

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Duckworth; REPRINT edition (1930)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00085Y9HC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,757,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Published in 1930, "Labels" is Evelyn's Waugh first travel book, which was followed in 1931 by the more well known "Remote People." In both location and style, this is a more tentative - but certainly not a less enjoyable - book. Called "Labels" because all the places visited on his trip were fully labelled in travellers minds, it is obvious that Waugh is not off the beaten track. Indeed, he travels by train or on cruise ships, meets groups of tourists and often joins them on excursions. During this book he begins with a vague intention of visiting Russia, but never gets there. Instead he travels around Europe, the Middle East and North Africa; going to Paris, Monte Carlo, Cairo, Cyprus, Malta and Barcelona, among other places.

These travels take place in 1929 and so this book is fascinating as an account of a long vanished world as much as being a record of Waugh's trips. He is a young man here, having published only one biography and one novel. At this time, his brother Alec was a far more successful writer than he was - indeed, he makes light of being mistaken for his brother by a woman he meets, but it surely rankled. His sharp humour is very much in evidence in this wonderful volume and he is full of sly observations. In Cairo, for instance, he is slightly overwhelmed by staying in a hotel so close to the pyramids. It is, he observes, "like having the Prince of Wales at the next table in a restaurant; one kept pretending not to notice, while all the time glancing furtively to see if they were still there."

During this book, Waugh has a warm and chatty style; he is charming, charmed and open to new experiences. If you have enjoyed Waugh's more famous novels, then this will show you another side to the author as he just started out on his travels. Like all his books, it is a delight.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a great book. Evelyn Waugh is more famous for books like Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust, both of which are fairly tragic. He also wrote satirical, dark comedies like Scoop and The Loved One. This is a non-fiction book in which he attempts the travel genre, with in my view, stunning success. He ambles about using a cruise ship to transport him wherever his whims take him, commenting upon some of the usual sights you would expect, but also taking in local peculiarities, and more importantly people watching.
He has a wonderful turn of phrase and a delightfully irreverent approach to his commentary, he often addresses the reader directly, which makes for a much more conversational, intimate journey for the reader. He takes in the delights of France,Greece, Italy, Egypt and Algeria to name but a few. His dialogue about discovering the works of Gaudi in Barcelona is particularly charming and enthusiastic and his juxtaposition of the serious and silly works beautifully.
This is a book of its time, and in this way reminded me very much of the travel books of Lawrence Durrell which I also loved. It is worth reading, not because you will ever be able to retrace his steps, but precisely because you won't, and you are able to enter into a unique series of snapshots of a bygone era. Delightful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb on 19 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Recently I have fully begun to appreciate the writing genius of Evelyn Waugh. I always realised he was good, but now I am starting to understand more fully his greatness. Throughout 2013 I have read, or reread, a number of his books, along with the splendid Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. Having read all of his fiction, bar Sword of Honour, which I am poised to start, I was keen to sample some of Evelyn Waugh's non-fiction.

I am delighted to report that "Labels" is every bit as good as his wonderful fiction. In "Labels", we join Evelyn Waugh on a trip around the Mediterranean in 1929: he travels from Europe to the middle east and north Africa. Waugh chose the name "Labels" for this, his first travel book, because he thought the places he visited were already "fully labelled" in people's minds. Despite this, he brings a fresh and entertaining perspective to all that he encounters. His pen captures the local colour and the amusing idiosyncrasies of being a tourist. The writing is a delight, and each page is full of fun, amusing anecdotes, and incident. Even when he is bored, he still manages to write about it entertainingly. I look forward to reading more of his travel books, and more of his non-fiction.

Three things particularly struck me about this book:

1. The style is very chatty, humorous and self-deprecating, which is completely as odds with his misanthropic reputation.

2. His innate snobbishness results in some outrageous humour. For example, the cruise ship on which Waugh travels, occasionally encounters another cruise ship favoured by German tourists. He describes this ship as "vulgar" with inhabitants who are all "unbelievably ugly Germans" albeit "dressed with great courage and enterprise e.g.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pillowtail on 30 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Like all Waugh's prose this book is entertaining and elegant, with effortless one-liners peppering the text. It is not a great book, and not Waugh's best. But if the aim of a travel book is to stimulate interest in the places the author has visited, then this book does succeed in that. Obviously all the people he wrote about are long dead and the world he describes is gone too. Nevertheless, it does stimulate the appetite for travel and gives a different slant as Waugh seemed to be more interested in the people he saw and met than the famous sites.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Labels 20 Dec. 2013
By S Riaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Published in 1930, “Labels” is Evelyn’s Waugh first travel book, which was followed in 1931 by the more well known “Remote People.” In both location and style, this is a more tentative – but certainly not a less enjoyable – book. Called “Labels” because all the places visited on his trip were fully labelled in travellers minds, it is obvious that Waugh is not off the beaten track. Indeed, he travels by train or on cruise ships, meets groups of tourists and often joins them on excursions. During this book he begins with a vague intention of visiting Russia, but never gets there. Instead he travels around Europe, the Middle East and North Africa; going to Paris, Monte Carlo, Cairo, Cyprus, Malta and Barcelona, among other places.

These travels take place in 1929 and so this book is fascinating as an account of a long vanished world as much as being a record of Waugh’s trips. He is a young man here, having published only one biography and one novel. At this time, his brother Alec was a far more successful writer than he was – indeed, he makes light of being mistaken for his brother by a woman he meets, but it surely rankled. His sharp humour is very much in evidence in this wonderful volume and he is full of sly observations. In Cairo, for instance, he is slightly overwhelmed by staying in a hotel so close to the pyramids. It is, he observes, “like having the Prince of Wales at the next table in a restaurant; one kept pretending not to notice, while all the time glancing furtively to see if they were still there.”

During this book, Waugh has a warm and chatty style; he is charming, charmed and open to new experiences. If you have enjoyed Waugh’s more famous novels, then this will show you another side to the author as he just started out on his travels. Like all his books, it is a delight.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great and true wit.. 28 Aug. 2011
By John the Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This delightful book describes an extended tour around the mainly Mediterranean Europe of the inter-World War years - it is in fact describing Waugh's own heavily disguised honeymoon. The resulting book gained much praise and interest...
"the new book that interests me most this week is Labels ... less for any outstanding merits it may possess than from the fact that I wrote it myself" as the author himself wrote in review!

Full of that marvelous inherited family wit, the book contains several favorite sentences, often quoted or at least partly remembered by fans of this family's writing. A gushing encounter at a tony cocktail party:
"..I love your books so much I never travel without them.. I keep them in a row by my bed."
"..by any chance you are not confusing me with my brother, Alec? He has written many more books than I.'
"Yes, of course. What's your name then?"
"Evelyn."
"But... they said you wrote!"
"Well, yes I do a little. You see I couldn't get any other sort of job".
Evelyn adds ruefully that he wondered if she would add Labels to the row by her bed.

Another gem, perhaps the most famous paragraph written in the entire genre of travel...
"I do not think I shall ever forget the sight of Etna at sunset; the mountains almost invisible in a blur of pastel grey, glowing on the top ... the whole horizon behind radiant with pink light, fading gently into a grey pastel sky." Then the final sentence: "Nothing I have seen in Art or Nature was quite so revolting."

A wonderful romping read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Grand Tour of Old 10 April 2013
By Steven Johnston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Waugh writes (rather) short vignettes about different cities on a tour of Mediterranean countries in 1930. It's a wonderful window on a long lost world of traveling -- when people traveled at a snail's pace and spoke several languages (even if just to order a drink). Waugh's tales paint a picture of a lost world, Europe between the wars, that was a hodgepodge of cultures, languages, and customs that every educated person would have been familiar with. One feels a sweet longing for those days of traveling to be in a country rather than just passing through it as we do today. It is particularly interesting to read his tales from Egypt and Malta, places that seem to be the epitome of the exotic for the ex-pat set.
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