Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Silk Roads March 18, 2011

Filed under: Archaeology,Books,Family,History,Southeast Asia,Travel,Writing — Janet @ 7:10 pm

  Silk Roads, The Asian Adventures of Clara & Andre Malraux by Axel Madsen

This proved to be a most interesting book.  I can’t remember exactly where I got it – I suspect Fremont Market or Ophelia’s Book Store in Fremont.  From its title I kind of thought it might be about the fabled Silk Road across Asia.  But no, it was quite different from what I expected.  It was a biography of Andre and Clara Malraux and what interesting lives they lead.  To quote from the dust jacket – “This is a story of romance, crime and political awakening, of the first rumblings of the upheaval that would last through the rest of the century……….” 

 What I found fascinating is that the lives of these 2 people were bound up in the turmoil of the past century, particularly in Southeast Asia – a part of the world I know little about.  But following on from this book I am eager to read more.  I have read a lot about the British experience of Empire in the Sub-Continent and Africa.  But this book was about the French experience and that is relatively new and unknown to me.  I can only reminisce and think about the 2 1/2 oral exam for my Master’s Degree in Geography at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois.  The exam was quite something.  A few weeks previous I had had a bad experience with an old fashioned electric wringer, which I was using in the basement of the house where I was living.  As a result, my hand was wrapped in thick bandages and I felt like the wounded warrior, which I was.  Anyhow, the exam ground on and I was waxing eloquent in answer to the various questions posed by this panel of 3 professors.  Waxing eloquent until I was asked a question about the climate in Java.  Hmm – I had only a vague idea – somehow out of my subconscious I decided that Java was somewhere near the equator on the far side of the world and I answered accordingly.  My geography specialties were urban geography and the geography of Europe.  The rest of the world didn’t enter into it.  But I had had a course in meteorology at Middlebury and I tried my best.  Well, I passed so whether my answers were right or wrong I guess they were good enough. 

 Now I will bone up a bit more on the history and geography of that part of the world – 3 grandchildren will be moving there shortly!   And their mum will be doing an intensive language course to get ready for her new posting.  Much to learn!  (One thing I’ve learned already is that it sounds much much too hot to think about knitting when we go to visit.)