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Blast from the Past
Heather Vogel Frederick -- 6/5/00
Several publishers this season are putting their thumbs into the vast archives of travel literature and pulling out plums to offer the reading public.

Duke University Press is releasing a complete edition, including original maps and illustrations, of Mungo Park's 1799 bestseller Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, edited and with an introduction by Kate Ferguson Marsters. A true tale of adventure and survival, the book has fired the imagination of such writers as Wordsworth, Melville, Conrad, Hemingway and T. Coraghessan Boyle, all of whom acknowledged the influence that the 24-year-old Scotsman's travel narrative had on their work.

Interlink's new series, Lost and Found: Classic Travel Writing, will launch in September with a trio of international titles, Two Years in the French West Indies by Lafcadio Hearn, originally published in 1890, The Pilgrimage to Santiago (1974) by Edwin Mullins and Old Provence (1905) by Theodore Andrea Cook--"pre-Peter Mayles," quips publicity director Moira Megargee, who tells PW that the series was inspired by publisher and editor Michel Moushabeck's passion for antiquarian bookstores. Moushabeck also felt, she adds, that the series would be a perfect fit for Interlink's list, which aims for "literate, curious travelers who want more than just a guidebook." Lost and Found will bring some 18 travel classics back into print over the next two years.

Travelers' Tales also has a new series, Travelers' Tales Classics. In the words of managing editor Lisa Bach: "This is our opportunity to bring fabulous books we've read and talked about for years to a new audience and give them a new spotlight." The series debuts in September with Unbeaten Tracks in Japan by Isabella Bird, who Bach calls the "foremother of all women travelers." Written in the late 1870s, the groundbreaking story chronicles Bird's solo journey to the interior of Japan, a country where she is still much celebrated. Richard Halliburton's The Royal Road to Romance follows in October. After graduating from Princeton in the '30s, Halliburton wandered the world, while friends trooped off to law school and medical school. From his descriptions of climbing the Matterhorn (with no prior mountaineering experience) to working his way to Calcutta on a steamship, "Halliburton is utterly charming," says Bach, adding, "It's a complete page-turner."

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