7. Literary Journeys
The Odyssey of Homer: Translated from the Greek
London: Printed for Henry Lintot, 1752, 5 volumes
Translated by Alexander Pope
Pope’s translations of Homer did not mark the first appearance of the Greek bard in English, but they made a significant impression. Pope’s Illiad was published in 1715–20 and was a huge financial success. In 1725–26 he issued his Odyssey. Two Greek scholars, William Broome and Elijah Fenton, were responsible for more than half the translation, a fact that Pope tried to hide from the public. When it became known, his reputation was severely damaged.
James Joyce 1882–1941
New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935
Limited ed. of 1500 copies, signed by the artist, Henri Matisse
The Limited Editions Club edition of Ulysses is an example of collaboration between an author and an artist. Different versions of the story record different reactions by Joyce to Henri Matisse’s illustrations. Ulysses is a modern-day journey through Dublin. The fact that Matisse chose to provide illustrations of the classical Odyssey instead of Joyce’s contemporary novel has led to speculation that he may not have read the book. Copies signed by both author and artist are rare, Joyce having signed only 250 of the 1500 copies.
John Steinbeck 1902–1968
The Grapes of Wrath
New York: The Viking Press, 1939
This is a story of a family’s journey along Route 66 during the Depression era. The Joad family is forced from their Oklahoma farm and decide to travel to California, mistakenly imagining it as a land of plenty. Everything the family owns is invested in the journey. The book was controversial when released because of its negative depiction of Californian farmers and its references to workers’ rights. Copies were burned by those who viewed it as socialist propaganda. The dust jacket is by Elmer Hader.
Patrick White 1912–1990
Voss: A novel
London: Eyre & Spottiswoode and The Book Society, 1957
Dust jacket by Sidney Nolan
Voss is loosely based on the failed 1845 expedition of Ludwig Leichhardt to inland Australia. The narratives of Leichhardt’s exploration journals are of the adventure, the landscapes and observations of Indigenous Australians. In contrast, Patrick White’s novel is more an exploration of the man and of the love he left behind. The cover illustration is by Sidney Nolan. Nolan and White were friends and Nolan designed at least eight covers for White.
Hunter S Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A savage journey to the heart of the American dream
New York: Random House, 
Fear and Loathing first appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971. Thompson claimed that it was primarily written over 36 hours while alone in a room – in a form of binge writing similar to Jack Kerouac’s writing of On the Road. It is a social commentary on 1960s America as well as being a journey of personal experience. The New York Times claimed it was ‘by far the best book yet on the decade of dope’. It is illustrated by the English artist Ralph Steadman.
Jack Kerouac 1922–1969
On the Road
London: Deutsch, 1958, first English ed.
Cover by Len Deighton
The disgruntled and restless postwar youth found its voice through the Beat Generation of the 1950s. This was defined by On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s fictionalised account of his journeys across America with fellow Beats Neal Cassady, William S Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. To Kerouac, the journey itself was the experience, rather than the reaching of a destination.
Bruce Chatwin 1940–1989
London: Cape, 1987
Songlines has been regarded as one of the great examples of postmodernist travel writing. It was written following Chatwin’s travels to central Australia in the early 1980s with his friend Salman Rushdie. Chatwin traces the travels of Indigenous Australians along songlines or dreaming tracks across the land. The Songlines is a philosophical musing on how people have interacted with the land over thousands of years.
Nick Cave b. 1957
The Sick Bag Song
Edinburgh: Canongate, 2014
Nick Cave attended the Caulfield Institute of Technology, now Monash Faculty of Art and Design. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by Monash in 2008 for his contribution to Australian artistic endeavour. In addition to his music, Cave is a writer and actor. The Sick Bag Song began during his 2014 US music tour and includes notes, musings and poetry written on various aeroplane sick bags throughout the extensive 22-city tour.