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.