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The Lycian Shore: A Turkish Odyssey (Freya Stark Collection) [Paperback]

Freya Stark
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Sep 2011 Freya Stark Collection
'There are not so many places left where magic reigns without interruption and of all those I know, the coast of Lycia was the most magical.' Lycia, on the southwestern coast of Turkey, is an ancient land steeped in mystery, myth and legend. Home to the fiery chimera and to the great heroes Sarpedon and Penderus; heartland of worship for the goddess Leto and her children Apollo and Artemis; old ally of Troy, lure to conquering Cyrus and Alexander and to centuries of travellers, artists and writers - Lycia, part of the 'Turquoise Coast' now attracts more tourists to her glimmering shores than any other part of Turkey. In the early 1950s, following the trail of ancient Persian and Greek traders, Freya Stark set out by boat to explore the Lycian coast. She was guided by the traces of Lycia's rich history and cultural heritage. For all those who now follow in her wake, there can be no better, more evocative or knowledgeable guide to this, Turkey's most enchanting coast. 'Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history.' - The Observer; 'One of the finest travel writers of our century.' - The New Yorker; 'A Middle East traveler, an explorer and, above all, a writer, Freya Stark has, with an incomparably clear eye, looked toward the horizon of the past without ever losing sight of the present. Her books are route plans of a perceptive intelligence, traversing time and space with ease.' - Saudi Aramco World

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The Lycian Shore: A Turkish Odyssey (Freya Stark Collection) + Ionia: A Quest (Freya Stark Collection)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Tauris Parke Paperbacks; Reprint edition (30 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848853122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848853126
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'It's hard to think of a writer in the travel game who most closely demonstrates the merits of Flaubert's three rules for good writing: clarity, clarity and finally clarity. Re-reading her now, her restrained powers of description shine as brightly as they ever did, and they will continue to shine until the next Ice Age... Her books are more relevant than ever. Besides sheer enjoyment, one should read her for a fresh perspective on the intractable issues dogging Christian-Muslim relations. She was able to see both sides and what she found was similarity, not difference. The greatest woman traveller of the 20th century? I think so.' --Sara Wheeler, The Times

'It was rare to leave her company without feeling that the world was somehow larger and more promising. Her life was something of a work of art… The books in which she recorded her journeys were seductively individual… Nomad and social lioness, public servant and private essayist, emotional victim and mythmaker.' --Colin Thubron, NY Times

'Few writers have the capacity to do with words what Faberge could do with gems - to fashion them, without violating their quality. It is this extraordinary talent which sets Freya Stark apart from her fellow craftsman in the construction of books on travel.' --The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of Middle East writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female travellers in history. She explored Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Southern Arabia, where she became the first western woman to journey through the Hadhramaut. Usually solo, she ventured to places few Europeans had ever been. She received the title of Dame and her many, now classic, books include Travels in the Near East, A Winter in Arabia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins. 'She has written the best travel books of her generation and her name will survive as an artist in prose.' - The Observer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind... 23 April 2012
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Freya Stark lived for an entire century (1893-1993). One senses that it was her indomitable spirit and relentless curiosity that simply drove her to live that long, in order to "fit it all in." Peripatetic and immensely erudite, she learned both Persian and Arabic, handy linguistic skills when traveling in the remoter regions of Southwest Asia. Often she travelled alone, visiting areas where virtually no Western male had seen. I've read, reviewed and highly recommend two other works of hers: The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut which is an account of her 1934 trip to the Hadhramaut, famous in the days of the Roman Empire for its frankincense, and, much more recently, for being the ancestor homeland of Osama bin Laden. The other book is The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan (Freya Stark Collection), an account of a 1968 trip through the heart of Afghanistan. She relates, among other anecdotes, to taking a bath in a cold mountain spring, at the age of 75. Hard-core, as we once said. "The Lycian Shore" is an account of her 1952 trip, in the autumn, along the Turkish coast, by small boat. She was "one of a kind," and I suspect they just don't make them like that anymore.

The turmoil and displacement of the Second World War had largely subsided. Stark's travels in the Hadhramaut she had done solo. With the success of her earlier depictions of her travels, she obviously developed contacts in the British diplomatic corps, which she used both on this trip, as well as the one in Afghanistan. And it was a different era for the diplomats too.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lycian Shore Freya Stark 4 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One needs a very detailed foreknoledge of Greek history in Asia Minor to find the depth of detail interesting
compared to her other works
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind... 23 April 2012
By John P. Jones III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Freya Stark lived for an entire century (1893-1993). One senses that it was her indomitable spirit and relentless curiosity that simply drove her to live that long, in order to "fit it all in." Peripatetic and immensely erudite, she learned both Persian and Arabic, handy linguistic skills when traveling in the remoter regions of Southwest Asia. Often she travelled alone, visiting areas where virtually no Western male had seen. I've read, reviewed and highly recommend two other works of hers: The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (Modern Library Paperbacks) which is an account of her 1934 trip to the Hadhramaut, famous in the days of the Roman Empire for its frankincense, and, much more recently, for being the ancestor homeland of Osama bin Laden. The other book is The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion in Afghanistan (Freya Stark Collection), an account of a 1968 trip through the heart of Afghanistan. She relates, among other anecdotes, to taking a bath in a cold mountain spring, at the age of 75. Hard-core, as we once said. "The Lycian Shore" is an account of her 1952 trip, in the autumn, along the Turkish coast, by small boat. She was "one of a kind," and I suspect they just don't make them like that anymore.

The turmoil and displacement of the Second World War had largely subsided. Stark's travels in the Hadhramaut she had done solo. With the success of her earlier depictions of her travels, she obviously developed contacts in the British diplomatic corps, which she used both on this trip, as well as the one in Afghanistan. And it was a different era for the diplomats too. Instead of being barricaded against the population, their duties involved learning about, and traveling in the country. David Balfour was the Consular official stationed in Smyrna (modern day Izmir). For a couple of months they travelled, along with Balfour's wife, and the "native help," in a 30 ft. sloop, "the Elfin," along the coast. The title is a tad misleading, since Lycia itself is only the main protuberance on the southwestern shore, located between the island of Rhodes, and Antalya. Approximately three-fourths of the book concerns their coastal travels before they reach Lycia.

The true strength of this work is Stark's phenomenal knowledge of the ancient world. Though she will make references to other periods, for example, the Roman empire, as well as World War II, the vast majority of the historical references date from the 5th and 4th Century, B.C., from the Battle of Marathon to the partitioning of Alexander the Great's empire (there is an excellent, succinct appendix that covers key events during those two centuries.) She had read Xenophon, Thucydides, Plutarch, Livy, and numerous others, and had internalized the knowledge and can related it to a given place as though it had happened only yesterday. I disliked Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana since he seemed oblivious to the present, and focused exclusively on the ancient world, going from "one pile of stones to another." Stark has that tendency too, but she clearly announces that this is her intention. On the other hand, she does relate interesting anecdotes concerning the present, including her visit to a monastery on Padmos, the school teacher who had never seen the ancient ruins in his village, and the Bedouin who still traveled along the coast (the latter was a big surprise to me.)

Speaking of the nomads, Stark says: "for the nomad dies in prison, and so does a man, in a world that he feels too small...Happiness, as I rode down towards the beach in the evening, seemed to me to belong to those three ages, ever with a growing awareness: to the nomad, whose infinity lies about him unquestioned; to the Aegean sailing without fear toward a yet undiscovered horizon; and to those, in the religions of our time, `whose service is perfect freedom' since they have seen their bars melted and infinity renewed." Stark continued to renew her infinity, all the way to 100.

As a final note, we had a dinner party last night, and one of the topics was the turmoil in the publishing industry, with the "harm" being done by, er...ah... the present site I'm reviewing on. Not surprisingly perhaps, I leaned in favor of the present site, for renewing and expanding the number of possibilities for a writer to reach a reading audience. Furthermore, like many other "elites," from Wall Street, to the leadership at various governmental agencies, I espoused the position that the big publishing houses have abdicated in their duties, particular by publishing numerous frauds, on which Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival is but one example. I'm happy to say that a wonderful counterpoint to my thesis is Tauris Parke, who deserves kudos to the second power, at least, for keeping Stark in print, and I look forward to the new editions being released over the next year or so. 5-stars for this one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical pay-dirt 22 Jan 2013
By Larry N. Stout - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Freya Stark at times delivers lyrical prose that makes the reader salivate. At other times she smothers the reader in what seems an ostentatious display of Classical learning -- breathlessly long history lessons -- so that what is nicely discursive can become distractingly excursive. I wish there were more of her interesting firsthand travel experiences per se, and fewer, or shorter, history lectures. That notwithstanding, this peculiar literary conglomerate contains some gold nuggets of philosophy, which in fact Stark is able to formulate precisely because of her very exceptional historical perspectives. This, for example, is timeless:

"...the summit of civilization is touched by the middle class. It walks along the razor's edge between the tyrant and the proletariat and is short-lived for that reason....I will hold that the middle class produces civilization because it is the only class constantly trained to come to a conclusion, poised as it is between the depth and the height. It is not rich enough to have everything, nor poor enough to have nothing, and has to choose: to choose between a succulent table and a fine library, between travel and a flat in town, between a car and a new baby, or a fur coat and a ball dress: it has enough of the superfluous to give it freedom from necessity, but only through the constant use of discrimination: its life therefore is one long training of the judgement and the will. This by itself need not manufacture greatness; but it is the soil in which it is possible to make it grow. And for this reason, when the rich become too rich and the poor too poor, and fewer and fewer people live under the constant discipline of their decisions, the age of greatness withers. To produce the lifelong stimulus of choice both in thought and action should be the aim of all education, and the statesman ought above all things to provide a government that remains in the hands of people whose life has trained them in the inestimable art of making up their minds."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read 17 Mar 2013
By Gwennie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading Ionia I expected another history lesson. This volume is different. I like it because there is more attention paid to the current (1952) customs and people of this part of Turkey. Frey Stark provides pictures with words.
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