Selected Travel Writing
Journey Without Maps and The Lawless Roads
A pair of revelatory travel memoirs from “a superb storyteller . . . [who] had a talent for depicting local color” (The New York Times).
“One of the finest writers of any language,” British author Graham Greene embarked on two awe-inspiring and eye-opening journeys in the 1930s—to West Africa and to Mexico (The Washington Post). Greene would find himself both shaken and inspired by these trips, which would go on to inform his novels.
Journey Without Maps: When Graham Greene set off from Liverpool in 1935 for what was then an Africa unmarked by colonization, it was to leave the known transgressions of his own civilization behind for those unknown. First by cargo ship, then by train and truck through Sierra Leone, and finally on foot, Greene embarked on a dangerous and unpredictable 350-mile, four-week trek through Liberia with his cousin and a handful of servants and bearers into a world where few had ever seen a white man. For Greene, this odyssey became as much a trip into the primitive interiors of the writer himself as it was a physical journey into a land foreign to his experience.
“One of the best travel books [of the twentieth] century.” —The Independent
The Lawless Roads: This eyewitness account of religious and political persecution in 1930s Mexico inspired The Power and the Glory, the British novelist’s “masterpiece” (John Updike). In 1938, Greene, a burgeoning convert to Roman Catholicism, was commissioned to expose the anticlerical purges in Mexico. Churches had been destroyed, peasants held secret masses in their homes, religious icons were banned, and priests disappeared. Traveling under the growing clouds of fascism, Greene was anxious to see for himself the effect it had on the people. Journeying through the rugged and remote terrain of Chiapas and Tabasco, Greene’s emotional, gut response to the landscape; the sights and sounds; the oppressive heat; and the people’s fear, despair, resignation, and fierce resilience makes for a vivid and powerful chronicle.
“[A] singularly beautiful travel book.” —New Statesman