A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
Morris’s title seems, even after reading the book, a bit of a misnomer. Maiden voyage always evokes thoughts of adventures on the open seas. Instead, the title is a bit of a pun: fifty-two travel tales by, it turns out, women of all ages, not just maidens. However, the book is enjoyable for the variety of narratives it contains, from rather staid ones from the likes of Edith Wharton to bawdier ones by people like Box-Car Bertha. Then there is the piece by Anna Leonowens, the Anna of the Anna and the King of Siam, the musical, The King and I! Beryl Markham, aviatrix, writes the following about her elephant hunt in Africa:
“There is a legend that elephant [sic] dispose of their dead in secret burial grounds and that none of these has ever been discovered. In support of this, there is only the fact that the body of an elephant, unless he had been trapped or shot in his tracks, has rarely been found. What happens to the old and diseased?” (232).
What editor Mary Morris may be trying to indicate is that women travel through the world differently than men. Author Barbara Grizzuti Harrison indicates so in this passage from her Italian travels, a passage that only a woman could write:
“After dinner, in a dim lounge, I watch Two Women , a movie with Sophia Loren. I am joined by the Italian woman who smokes. Out of an abundance of feeling I cry, not so much because this is the story of a rape, not because of the girl’s loss of innocence and the mother’s rage and grief, but because the injured girl is singing, her voice, frail, a song my grandmother used to sing: ‘Vieni, c’è una strada nel bosco . . . I want you to know it too . . . c’è una strada nel cuore . . . There’s a road in my heart . . . .’ The woman who smokes is crying, too. I am thinking of my daughter. When she leaves, the woman kisses the crown of my head. We have exchanged no words. Men have stood on the threshold and not come in. I never see her again” (333).
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