Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe by Nicholas Jubber - review by Thomas Shippey

Thomas Shippey

Of Poems & Puppet Operas

Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe


John Murray 336pp £20 order from our bookshop

Nicholas Jubber’s Epic Continent is at once a travelogue, set very much in the Europe of the present, and a quest for the literary past as it survives today. His modern odyssey, starting at the ancient site of Troy in Turkey, just off the edge of Europe, and ending in Iceland in the very far northwest, is not without its moments of stress. On Cape Tanairon in Greece, allegedly the site where Odysseus descended into Hades, he puts down his backpack to get into the sea cave said to be the entrance. He leaves it by a slant of limestone so he can find it again. But when he comes out, he realises that there are a hundred such outcrops. He never finds his backpack, and the loss is serious (if not on an epic level) because it contains his serotonin pills.

Moving through Kosovo in search of the Serbian balladeers called guslars, he is warned that entering Serbia from Kosovo itself is likely to cause trouble with suspicious and resentful border guards. Better, he’s told, to go the long way round through Macedonia. Western Europe – Sicily and Spain,

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