A Journey to Nowhere: Detours and Riddles in the Lands and History of Courland by Jean-Paul Kauffmann (Translated by Euan Cameron) - review by Max Egremont

Max Egremont

Duchy Originals

A Journey to Nowhere: Detours and Riddles in the Lands and History of Courland

By

MacLehose Press 269pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

It may seem strange to travel where there’s not much to see and even odder to choose a place that doesn’t exist. But in this book by the French writer Jean-Paul Kauffmann, interior monologue is as important as the journey or destination. Kauffmann seeks obscurity, remoteness and the absence of other tourists: the opposite of Italy, his ideal of culture and beauty.

The Duchy of Courland, on the southeastern shore of the Baltic, suits him perfectly. After a life of just over two hundred years (which included a curious attempt to establish colonies in west Africa and the Caribbean), it became part of tsarist Russia at the end of the 18th century.

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