Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life by Tomas EspedalTramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life by Tomas Espedal

Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life

byTomas Espedal

Hardcover | December 15, 2010

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“Why travel?” asks Tomas Espedal in Tramp, “Why not just stay at home, in your room, in your house, in the place you like better than any other, your own place. The familiar house, the requisite rooms in which we have gathered the things we need, a good bed, a desk, a whole pile of books. The windows giving on to the sea and the garden with its apple trees and holly hedge, a beautiful garden, growing wild.” The first step in any trip or journey is always a footstep—the brave or curious act of putting one foot in front of the other and stepping out of the house onto the sidewalk below. Here, Espedal contemplates what this ambulatory mode of travel has meant for great artists and thinkers, including Rousseau, Kant, Hazlitt, Thoreau, Rimbaud, Whitman, Giacometti, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In the process, he confronts his own inability to write from a fixed abode and his refusal to banish the temptation to become permanently itinerant.

            Lyrical and rebellious, immediate and sensuous, Tramp entertainingly conveys Espedal’s own need to explore on foot—in places as diverse as Wales and Turkey—and offers us the excitement and adventure of being a companion on his fascinating and intriguing travels.

Tomas Espedal is a graduate of the University of Bergen and the author of several novels and prose collections, including Nearly Art. James Anderson’s literary translations from the Norwegian include Berlin Poplars by Anne B. Ragde, Nutmeg by Kristin Valla, and several books by Jostein Gaarder.
Title:Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic LifeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:313 pages, 8 × 5 × 1.1 inPublished:December 15, 2010Publisher:Seagull BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1906497680

ISBN - 13:9781906497682

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from far from the madding crowd "Everyday tasks: wearing yourself out trying to find something new, a new word, a new sentence, a new book." Espedal is a walker, or more specifically, a traveller. Rather than allowing the destination to be the objective, each journey he makes is made meaningful by the act of arriving. Almost exclusively on foot, Espedal has travelled numerous European countries (and well beyond) just to discover new things and contemplate the old. As he travels, he analyzes works by Rousseau, Whitman, Cezanne, Wordsworth, and other philosophers and poets who also live for the journey; he finds a common ground through time with them by either citing their references to exploration or by simply imagining their impressions. His adventures are not first-class, as he actually prefers travelling as lightweight and unburdened as possible, and his taste is not for air-conditioned insulation from the masses that so many people find essential to relax. Instead, his only necessities appear to be cash and a warm coat. Some travel books get way too narrative: "I did this, then I did this, and later I did this..." No thanks. This is far more interesting. Especially in that he's a writer by profession, and he's able to not just explain where he goes but what he gets out of it. The reader, who may be stuck at home with only a adventurous spirit, can enjoy his work and not feel completely ignorant in the face of his numerous literary references. Sometimes he talks about the puzzles of travel: how an enormously crowded city may feel lonely, how a perfectly beautiful and tranquil evening may prevent a good night's sleep, and even how the perfect writing desk in an inspirational space can induce writer's block. In other places, he expands on the idea of novelty, how it's not so much where a person ventures to that brings refreshment but simply the act of doing something different: taking an unusual route, sleeping in a different bed, or eating different foods. Routine is the enemy of restoration, and he makes a strong case for wanting to be on the move as much as possible. Espedal calls the place he lives between journeys a 'waiting room'; a place to wait for the metamorphosis of change. Rousseau talks about the common sensation that most people have, to get away from 'it' all, but who are unable to define what 'it' is. Again, the novelty of the new and unexpected is Espedal's answer to what is needed. Coincidentally, as I read this, Thomas the Tank Engine was on, and Gordon the big engine came to the same conclusion: "a change is as good as a rest." Who knew kid's shows could be so philosophical? In any case, I completely lost myself in the travel and the ideas and was completely envious of it all. And yet, upon reflection, part of the freshness of what he suggests isn't as accessible as he makes it out to be. Sure, it'd be swell to explore without itinerary or restrictions, yet who actually can do that for more than a few weeks here and there? To travel off the beaten path also means being inaccessible to those who may need you; most people have some sort of commitments to fulfill. Don't get me wrong, I don't deny the beauty of the journey. In fact, he's the only writer who has put into words the joy I feel at two small hotels that I escape to on occasion, alone, just to hear myself think. And I definitely sense the Nordic feel of his work that reminds me, somehow, of the character of Arvid Jansen in two of Per Petterson's novels. There's definitely a cultural component to the desire for solitude because I've known many people who are completely helpless alone, while others thrive in isolation.
Date published: 2011-06-28

Table of Contents

Part 1
Why not begin with a street
Going to the dogs
Before I go
An impossible living room
The dream of vanishing
To walk away from a relationship
A lonely wanderer's reveries
I should have had a trade
Down the open road
Swansea. Wales. Summer '98
Staufen. Germany. Spring '99
The origin of loneliness
So full of leave-taking
The perfect day
I found a resting place
Breakfast with the Dales in Modal
To the mountains
Night in the mountains
The sun's reveille
With Anders Øvrebø at Ortnevik
Boots and the Man, I sing!
At the hairdresser's
Faun's evening
To go alone or with a companion
The wayfaring books
The diaries
An attempt
A midsummer night's dream
Sleeping out
On the beach

Part 2
Sports and entertainment
Giacometti and the prostitutes
The Rimbaud route
How does a journey begin?
Finding the way
Out of Greece, into Turkey
Walking the streets of Istanbul
The Lycian way
A sojourn at Olympos

Editorial Reviews

"Even as his fame has grown in his native Norway, the range of what Tomas Espedal writes about has shrunk. Instead of an ever-expanding autobiographical space in which to tell his life story, Espedal's project is more of a paring-down, an endlessly repeated return to a single scene. In Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life, Espedal journeys on foot to places like Germany, Wales, Greece, and Turkey, meeting a host of interesting figures along the way. . . . In establishing the silent context of family and home, Espedal brings to the foreground a past that is far more distant and not as clear-cut as the travels he explicitly relates. Chronological time and authorial distance give way to a personal history that is at once more primordial, and in its way, more poetic. Espedal's memoir thus becomes an especially vivid and deeply satisfying account of a 'wild and poetic life.' "