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Way To Xanadu [Paperback]

Caroline Alexander


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Book Description

1 Sep 1994
As a child in Florida, Caroline Alexander learnt Coleridge's masterpiece of a poem, "Kubla Khan". Coleridge recalled that it was composed in an opium sleep as he was reading about Kubla Khan. He awoke and wrote fifty-five lines of the poem before being interrupted. Scholars have ever since discussed the contemporary works that had influenced Coleridge. In "The Way to Xanadu", a literary travel book, Caroline Alexander recounts her quest across three continents to discover the sources of Coleridge's inspiration.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Author tracks down the sources of a poetic fragment 26 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love travel narratives that take me on slow, relaxing journeys to unusual places. This author takes a journey to find the sources of famous poetic fragment, trying to locate Xanadu. This is a pleasant, slow read, and it was intriguing to find that the one part of this search led her back to a neighborhood of her own childhood.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favorite books 26 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Travel book that not only details the author's journeys around the world, but also back in time, to find the origin of Coleridge's famous poem about Xanadu. Very interesting and readable, I have read it three or four times now, always with pleasure. Readers who like "The Road to Ubar" (another fabulous travel/detective story) will like the "Way to Xanadu."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tracing a Poem 24 Feb 2013
By Jonathan A. Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'd first run across Caroline Alexander's writing in connection with Ernest Shackleton. An upcoming trip to Mongolia, and seeing her name as authoress, impelled me to buy this book.

It doesn't have much to do with Mongolia - it's an exploration of the realities behind Coleridge's opium dream "Kubla Khan." As such, it's a fascinating piece of on-the-ground literary detection. An armchair traveller's delight, she writes well and writes about interesting things. I'd always thought "Kubla Khan" to be pure drug-induced fantasy. Not so - there were real places behind the descriptions. It was an age in which Europeans were journeying to all parts of the world for the first time - and coming home and writing about it. Coleridge had plenty of material and Ms. Alexander takes us on a wonderful journey to the origins of his fantasy. Highly recommended.
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