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Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere

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It was the same park where 90 years earlier, Joyce had left his mistress Nora while he went to pick a drunken fight in the city centre.

It was interesting to read the thoughts of someone from her generation, getting their head around the slow change that the post Second World War push for equality is rendering. Morris reached a similar conclusion, asking, “Could it be that racism is a sort of historical invention, a Satanic hoax? This is Jan Morris‘s melancholy love letter to a city that was formed by a dozen different civilizations over the course of four thousand years but seems not to belong to any of them.Both were cosmopolitan port cities that were created out of fiat from small towns, by the Catherine the Great and the Hapsburg Emperor respectively. Morris paints an interesting portrait of Trieste, a city I’ve never been to (and one which, according to a possibly apocryphal 1999 poll, 70% of Italians don’t realize is in Italy). Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, but is Welsh by heritage and adoption. For me Trieste is an allegory of limbo, nowhere defined by an hiatus after the second world war when Communists laid claim. On our first half-day in town, I referred to so many passages in the book that you'd think it was a travel guide.

Morris doesn’t mention Welsh rebellion, but her discussion of the Italian nationalist Irredentist movement must have chimed with her knowledge of Wales’ own attempts at independence from a nation viewed by some as occupiers.Jan Morris wrote several works of fiction, and her talent as a storyteller is apparent in the pages of Trieste. To become a subscriber to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly Magazine, please visit our subscriptions page.

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