Monday, December 03, 2012

More Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Travelling (1900 - 1950)

(One last archived entry while I'm sprinting up and down active volcanoes here in Costa Rica. Hoo-ah!)

As a follow-up to my entry about HISTORICAL LITERARY PERSPECTIVE ON DRINKING AND FUCKING, we'll continue to flex our literary muscles here; some more books by, for, and about tourists and expats who did some drinking and fucking, by some famous dead white guys, between 1900 - 1950.

Jerome K. Jerome is more famous for his book THREE MEN IN A BOAT, but for an interesting account of a trip abroad, check out THREE MEN ON A BUMMEL, which concerns a bicycle trip through Germany. Still fun and easy to read, take special note of the way this 1900 novel points out all the things that people still complain about today -- too many tourists, too much advertising, everybody speaks English. (There's a bit of beer drinking and girl-watching and stuff, but there's not too much in the way of debauchery or anything.) Wittness his prophetic comments about Germany, however:

 Hitherto, the German has had the blessed fortune to be exceptionally well governed; if this continue, it will go well with him. When his troubles will begin will be when by any chance something goes wrong with the governing machine.

W. Somerset Maugham was a fun guy -- widely-traveled and bisexual, acerbic of wit, worked as a spy, and all that. He wrote TONS of novels about expats abroad, in the waning days of the British Empire, and a good one to start with might be THE MOON AND SIXPENCE, which concerns a married middle-aged British businessman who chucks it all to go abroad and paint, traveling to France and Tahiti. Published in 1916, he paints a good portrait of the seedy drunken French art cafe underworld and Tahiti as an early "sexpat" destination.

Ernest Hemingway also had early claim to fame as an expat chronicler, and his most famous book on that subject would probably be THE SUN ALSO RISES, published in 1926, concerning a bunch of drunken expats cavorting around France and Spain, especially at the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona. (They liked to think they invented drinking and fucking, also, that Lost Generation.) The female lead is a crazy slut, although the male lead lost his weiner in the war, or something. Never really clearly explained, but he can't fuck. So he just drinks a lot and takes whores out to dinner instead. That's what I would do.

And how could we not mention Ernest Hemingway's butt-buddy, F. Scott Fitzgerald? He got rich and famous in his twenties writing about drunken partying Jazz Age students, but he spent time abroad as well, and TENDER IS THE NIGHT, published in 1934, is his major book on that subject, concerning a wealthy American couple galavanting around Europe, especially France, as their marriage falls apart due to alcohol and (of course) teenage poontang. (Written, of course, while his marriage to his crazy wife was failing and he was in the process of drinking himself to death.)

Graham Greene is another British guy who wrote tons of novels about expats and British people abroad; the novel THE HEART OF THE MATTER is considered one of his best, published in 1948, about a British policeman in a corrupt sleazy West African colony. As with most of his novels, adultery is one of the themes, there's some teenage poontang, and whores are mentioned. And drinking? In those days abroad gin and tonics were considered medicinal.

Of course there are plenty of others, but those will get you started. Stay tuned for the final entry in this series, which will deal with books written since 1950 on the topics of drinking, fucking, and traveling.


Tim said...

Something that should have been mentioned in your first post on the subject is "My Secret Life" by "Walter", published in the late 19th century. It's an extreme behemoth of a book that is basically about the anonymous author's sex life, ranging from his earliest experiences as a child to late in life, presumably shortly before he either passed away or become impotent. Although the book itself is mainly about fucking rather than traveling, and the vast majority of his fuck-buddies are street whores in London, he does do quite a bit of traveling and manages to screw his way across Europe.

pfffill said...

If a shagging braggart is your medicine, you can do no better than Frank Harris. His "My Life and Loves" is a study in doubtfully undertaken sexual adventures across Europe and the US.

English Teacher X said...

An interesting point there is that of the guys I mentioned, only Jerome K. Jerome wrote his book as exemplary of his own adventures; the other guys did what everybody did in those days; that is, write about stuff that really happened but change all the names and call it fiction. Maugham enraged most of his friends and acquaintances by writing about their dirty laundry.

Nowadays you've got your James Frey and J. T. Leroi and such writing fiction but claiming it really happened. Wacky world.

English Teacher X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raul Felix said...

Thanks ETX, I'm adding these to my reading list.