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A New York Review Books OriginalHav is like no place on earth Rud to be the site of Troy captured during the crusades and recaptured by Saladin visited by Tolstoy Hitler Grace Kelly and Princess Diana this Mediterranean city state is home to several architectural marvels and an annual rooftop race that is a feat of athleticism and insanity As Jan Morris guides us through the c. Morris most everyone knows is one of the premier travel writers of the 20th Century She went everywhere and wrote with such interest and erudition about the places she visited that one reads her works simply because she writes better than anyone else One publisher gave her the opportunity to write fiction and Morris created an invented place Hav to which many folks immediately wanted to book a flight This novel is composed of two parts in Last Letters from Hav Morris describes for us her first glimpse of the Protectorate of Hav its residents flora fauna religions and origins In Hav of the Myrmidons written twenty years later Morris returns to a much changed Protectorate In the Epilogue to the combined novel called simply Hav published by nyrb Morris tells us that the allegories of old Hav have been transmuted from a place of “overlapping ancient cultures but with familiar signposts based in history” to allegories of “civic prodigieshitherto inconceivable and themselves all but fictional still”Hav is an international protectorate near the Black Sea and on the Mediterranean Every major nation had its representatives there ensconced in formerly grand buildings that carried a storied history When Morris visited in the 1980’s Hav was rundown and a tiny bit disreputable but the glamour of earlier days still shone through Morris shares her first impressions upon her arrival at night monotonous and cold stark and forbidding and those again modified by clear morning light bright colorful polyglot She stays several months buys an automobile and travels by ferry to outlying islands She meets the important citizens and legal representatives of countries occupying national concessions in Hav and witnesses the major celebrations—the coming of the snow raspberries and the Roof Race Her visits to The Iron Dog and The House of the Chinese Master “the most astonishing aesthetic experience Hav can offer” are accompanied by marvelously detailed descriptions composed of wonder and aweThe novel is just a travel memoir a very good one with historical references and informative notes about where to find the best food until Morris comes to her discussion of the British Concession and its history in the province Morris seems to become much pointed in her references when she describes the British consul his wife and English interests in establishing a base in Hav Morris includes notes General CJ Napier wrote to his wife about Hav “A dreadful hole—worse than Sind” and “Oh what a foretaste of hell this is” The British always kept some distance from true involvement in the life of Hav they “loathed the Protectorate” created buildings that looked uite like those created in India for their comfort and were reputed to house only spies in their officesWe learn that celebrities and leaders from many countries visited Hav in its heyday Morris’ description of Nijinsky’s visit is particularly poignant but Hitler and Wagner at different times naturally George Sand and Chopin Kim Philby and the shadowy Sir Edmund Backhouse scholarly sinologist and baronet were all said to have stayed there at some time or anotherAn escarpment just to the north of Hav was home to a cave dwelling tribe of troglodytes who never settled in the city proper but who form “a still living bridge between the city and its remotest origins” Their language has a fragile connection with the Celtic but is still incomprehensible to everyone outside their group It is said when they first saw the peninsula upon which Hav now sits surrounded by blue sea they called the place “Summer” or hav in the surviving Celtic language of the West The underlying political structure of Hav was a shambles of competing interests and insufficiently expansionist beliefs which added to the rich confusion of organic growth in the labyrinthine city Hav was likewise a rich stew of religions all in stages of isolation from their original tenets One mysterious group called Cathars of Hav was composed of secret members of the community and whose ceremonies and meetings involve robes and chants in underground locations The Cathars are said to trace their history to the Crusades and their beliefs to Manicheanism or the dualistic cosmology between the forces of good and evil darkness and light This group alone gives Morris pause in her ramblings about the city but she does not spend much capital thinking about them before she is advised by the British Consul to leave the city in hasteMorris ends Last Letters from Hav on a note of uncertainty with low flying war planes streaking over the city Morris sees warships on the near horizon as she pauses on an overlook near where she will abandon her vehicle and catch a train away from Hav Morris uses the word “maze” to describe Hav than once leading us to think she meant among other things to suggest “a mazeing” Hav In 2005 Morris was invited to revisit Hav Her later map of the city looks completely different from the earlier one with many of the wonderful places she described razed Now the Myrmidon Tower dominates the landscape “a virtuoso display of unashamed unrestricted technologically unexampled vulgarity” upon which is emblazoned the state emblem of the Republic the letter ‘M’ flashing in seuential colors of red yellow green and blue and overlaid against an Achillean helmet outlined in gold When Morris ascends the Tower she discovers the nearby newly constructed Lazaretto Resort “the name is written with an exclamation mark because we believe you will find it a truly exclamatory experience” is in fact built like a maze when viewed from above The suites are named for places once a part of the old Hav before the Intervention in 1985As luck would have it the first people Morris interacts with in the New Hav are a “very English middle aged couple” whose advice “don’t experiment too much with the local stuff” seems designed to remind Morris however things have changed much has stayed the same But then “The thing is one feels so safe here The security’s really marvelous it’s all so clean and friendly and well everything we’re used to really” And that turns out to be the most frightening and curious thingThe troglydytes who originally named Hav are no longer living in whitewashed caves on the escarpment but have been moved to barracks near the airport where the menfolk work on airport construction While many Morris spoke with seemed pleased with the central heating and the comfortable living one man pointed out that they were experiments of “ethnic engineering” given a few certainties in exchange for their uniue though hardscrabble cultureMorris must leave after only six days this time while she was forced to leave after six months on her first visit Things have changed uite a lot and the menace is palpable People are afraid to speak openly for a very tight grip by the Cathars of Hav hear all and see all This science fiction reminds us what a woman of the world Ms Morris is for she has caught the national character of each resident group in Hav uite clearly But it is her certainty that events and locales have really lost their historical basis and point of origin is one that stays with us long after we put her book down The world is renewing itself and has become strange to even one so practiced in the art of travel ”The great ‘M’ ‘M’ for what ‘M’ really for Myrmidon or ‘M’ for Mammon For Mohammed the Prophet For Mani the Manichaean ‘M’ for McDonald’s or Monsanto or Microsoft ‘M’ for Melchik ‘M’ for Minoan ‘M’ for Maze’M’ for Me”Again from the Epilogue Morris says “A whole worldhas come into being since I wrote Last Letters from Hav New states have emerged and new kinds of cities suddenly erupted” The world is a new th

characters Hav by Jan Morris

Hav by Jan MorrOrridors and uarters of Hav we hear the mingling of Italian Russian and Arabic in its markets delight in its famous snow raspberries and meet the denizens of its casinos and cafés When Morris published Last Letters from Hav in 1985 it was short listed for the Booker Prize Here it is joined by Hav of the Myrmidons a seuel that brings the story up to date Twenty first century H. An excellent example of that small sub genre the invented place set in our own worldOther examples I've read have tended to feel like a mish mash of existing places This is different Jan Morris really makes you feel like Hav is real and further worth making the effort to visit at least in its original form

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summary Hav by Jan Morris 100 ☆ A New York Review Books OriginalHav is like no place on earth Rud to be the site of Troy captured during the crusades and recaptured by Saladin visited by Tolstoy Hitler Grace Kelly and Princess Diana this Mediterranean city state is home to several architectural marvels and an annual rooftop race that is a feat of athleticism aAv is nearly unrecognizable Sanitized and monetized it is ruled by a group of fanatics who have rewritten its history to reflect their own blinkered view of the past Morris’s only novel is dazzlingly sui generis part erudite travel memoir part speculative fiction part cautionary political tale It transports the reader to an extraordinary place that never was but could well b. This is actually two separate books Last Letters from Hav and its seuel Hav of the Myrmidons In them Jan Morris writes about an imaginary peninsula ajacent to Turkey that has a mixed population of Arabs Greeks Russians Chinese troglodytes the Kretevs and miscellaneous Europeans Readers of Hav have been so befuddled as to make travel inuiriesA brilliant travel writer like Jan Morris can easily confuse the reader Her picture of the old Hav is so appealing and the picture of the draconian changes after the Intervention which Morris flees in the first part and returns to twenty years later so realistic that the two books together can stand in for almost any small diverse countryAlthough the Hav books are fiction they can almost be read of the changes that are sweeping through the Eastern Mediterranean and other places due to politics and religion and the politics of religion