East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Down yet another rabbit-hole

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Two nights ago I read in a single sitting a book that’s been on my to-read list for over 20 years, and that for various reasons I always left behind when going to the bookstore. It is called Il Cammello Battriano (The Bactrian Camel), and was written by Italian journalist Stefano Malatesta.
It is the chronicle of a fascination for the Silk Road, and of a trip along the road in the company of old books by and about explorers and adventurers and what not. I guess you can see why I liked it.

It is a very thin book (160 pages) which explains why it became a bestseller – and by this I do not mean to shortcharge mister Malatesta, who is a fine writer that spins an excellent yarn, but for a fact the Italian Top Ten book list used to host books under the 200-pages (names like Baricco or Tamaro come to mind).

Considering the number of books I have read about the Silk Road, reading Malatesta felt like walking the same road again, in the company of a different companion, and yet not only does the author provide a different, personal take on the travel experience and the places visited, but he quotes from a few books and authors that I have so far missed.
Which of course prompted me to go on the Internet Archive, and check a few names.

From Malatesta I discovered European Adventurers of Northern India, 1785 to 1849, that was published in 1929 and does exactly what it says on the cover, and through Grey I came to Herbert Compton, that in 1893 published the essential A Particular Account Of The European Military Adventurers Of Hindustan.

And it’s in the Internet Archive copy of the latter that I find this is in fact a book in a series, The Adventure Series… and there’s a catalog!

  1. Adventures of a Younger Son. By E. J, Trelawney.
  2. Robert Drury’s Journal in Madagascar.
  3. Memoirs of the Extraordinary Military Career of John Shipp.
  4. The Adventures of Thomas Pellow, of Pemryn, Mariner.
  5. The Buccaneers and Marooners of America.
  6. The Log of a Jack Tar; or, The Life of James Choyce. With O’Brien’s Captivity in France.
  7. The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto.
  8. The Story of the Filibusters.
  9. A Master Mariner. The Life and Adventurea of Captain R. W. Eastwick.
  10. Kolokotrones, Klepht and Warrior.
  11. Hard Life in the Colonies.
  12. The Escapes of Casanova and Latude from Prison.
  13. The Adventures of a Blockade Runner ; or, Trade in Time of War.
  14. Missing Friends. Being the Adventures of a Danish Emigrant in Queensland (1871-1880),
  15. The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth (Mountaineer and Scout).
  16. The Memoirs and Travels of Count de Benyowsky.

… which of course means more long hours spent browsing the Internet Archive and downloading files, and then long hours spent reading and finally, maybe, a short essay, or a pamphlet, or a few stories…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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