Sunday, March 13, 2011

this is australia

I had a fantastic little library of picture books as a child. My mother had a real weakness for book illustrations, and I suppose books were more often chosen and bought on their aesthetic qualites than their literary merit.

I still have many of these beautiful books, much loved now, but the pictures just as vivid to me. One of my favourite sets was on a manx cat (without a tail) called Max who travelled the world, including Australia, looking for his tail.

As my boyfriend, and travelling companion, is named Max, inevitably this book, like its protagonist took the long journey from London and sits happily on our bookcase in Melbourne.

There has been a real resurgence of beautiful old and retro books over the last few years, in many different forms, with aesthetic often taking precedence over quality of story or indeed facts. This is very much the case with the now overwhelming popularity of the Miroslav Sasek, 'travel books'. Written between the late 50s and his death in 1980, these books have had renewed admiration with a new reissue every few months. Starting with the iconic New York, Paris, London and San Francisco in 2003-4, we are now seeing the more unusual Greece and Israel titles.

The illustrations are the real star in the books. Readers forgive the frequent asterixes that indicate the many, many factual discrepancies that now exist, enchanted instead by the stunning images. How refreshing, in an age of information-hunger and a constant strive for scientific fact, that such wrong books can be more popular than ever.
For our first Valentines Day together, last year, my boyfriend and I booked a trip to Paris, a first visit for him. My gift to him of the iconic 'This is Paris' book, went down very well, even despite the 'mistakes'.

This year, amidst our fervent saving, I was stuck for a meaningful, yet suitably thrifty gift. You can imagine my elation to discover the reissue of.....

You guessed it:


Predictably, the illlustrations and text are as lovely as ever. I'm not quite sure Max was as pleased to recieve it as I was to give it though. I was very very happy to find it after all.

The only problem now is that I've set up a tradition. Locations for our travels have become limited to those which Sasek has written books on.... Not a bad selection though. New York, San Francisco, Rome.... don't mind if I do!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...