Jan Morris

Wiped off the Map

Nowherelands: An Atlas of Vanished Countries 1840-1975

By

Thames & Hudson 240pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

I’m all for eccentric books, and this is certainly one. Translated from Norwegian, it’s an earnest but often entertaining assembly of miscellaneous facts and comments concerning fifty wildly assorted territories across the world, from Sicily to Upper Yafa, which at one time or another since 1840 have ceased to be political entities. While it includes eyewitness accounts, historical interpretations and ruminations on relevant music, films and occasional recipes, it is based fundamentally on the author’s own stamp collection. In creating this, he tells us, he has aimed to include one stamp from every country that has issued stamps since the original Penny Black, and he collects only used examples. He likes to lick the backs of them because he feels it directly associates him with lickers of the past, and every chapter of his book is illustrated with a licked example from his collection (he has also eaten his way through many of the cited recipes, he says, ‘as a way of grounding myself’).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,