Reading The Cruel Way

I am reading Ella Maillart’s The Cruel Way, about her road trip from Switzerland to Kabul in 1939 along with her friend Annemarie Schwartzenbach. This book was in theory free from University of Chicago, but I ended up buying it after several failed attempts to get the free book in a readable form, having installed several ugly and pointless pieces of bad software which I then had to uninstall. Better to buy the book and crack the DRM myself! Ridiculous!

Maillart is an ethnographer and writer, is interesting, often fantastically racist, hates Hitler, and is trying to help the famously “androgynous” men’s-suit-wearing Schwartzenbach clean up from a heroin addiction (what better thing to do than bring someone straight to Afghanistan????!!!) and get over some sort of stormy lesbian heartbreak. While I hoped initially they were lovers, now I think not – Schwartzenbach seems to have some other affairs along the way, though. Their relationship is pretty cool though. I enjoyed the moment where Schwartzenbach moans that Ella is more famous because her books have been translated (even though Schwartzenbach had more publications). Still true and no one seems to have translated her to English yet. Also fascinating, Maillart’s recordings of sentiment from people in various countries about Hitler, Mussolini, Britain, the US, Russia on the eve of war.

Neat stuff looked up in Wikipedia along the way
* Windcatchers of Hyderabad http://localcode.org/2017/03/windcatcher-passive-cooling-and-cultural-identity/ https://www.fieldstudyoftheworld.com/searching-windcatchers-hyderabad/

* The Tomb of Kabus and the Qabus-Nama

So many other things but it’s now a week later and I have moved on to read some other things! Oh well, I’ll post this anyway.

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