Tuesday 12 February 2008

Driving the point home

I did it! I drove on a road! Not a car park, not a simulator, but a bona fide road, with kerbs and cars and all. I didn't even hit either the kerbs or the cars. Spent my time starting, stopping, changing gears, turning and memorising various acronyms. POM and MSPSL and so forth. My driver isn't an effusive chap, but I think I was great!

Which got me thinking. Every now and then I like to pick a theme relevant to my everyday life, and see what books we can think of, together. It won't surprise you that today's theme is driving. Hmm... where, in the vast and varied world of literature, has an author decided to pick dr
iving as the central issue? Where are cars or vans or caravans or cars-with-trailers-on-single-carriageways (I need to know the speed limit for such, probably in wind, rain, earthquake and on days with an 'e' in them)?

I must confess, my head must be spinning a bit from motorised toing and froing. All I've come up with are Wind in The Willows and the old poop pooping of Toad; I presume The Caravanners by Elizabeth von Arnim has some of said vehicle in, though I wouldn't stake my life on't. Thomas De Quincey wrote an odd little bit of prose called The English Mail Coach, which came in handy for my essay on travel and the Romantic Imagination. Not really motorised. Come on, I clearly need your help - so get thinking, and let me know!


  1. My friend Mary says 'look in Howard's End for a description of a car journey'. At a less sophisticated level - 'The Thirty-Nine Steps' has just about every kind of transport of the period - including a chase across Scotland in a lorry!
    I suppose 'The Italian Job' is cheating!!

  2. There is a huge children's literature about caravanning, mostly books written from 1900 to 1960. If I were to start listing I would clog your blog. David Severn's Waggoner series is full of lyrical descriptions of the English countryside and, like his other books, is illustrated with beautiful woodcuts by Joan Kiddell Monroe.

  3. My mind immediately went to Mr Toad too. Didn't Beatrix Potter write a book about caravaning, or am I dreaming? Maybe Wodehouse dealt with automobiles at some point?
    Paperback of Angela Young's 'Return to Love' arrived today, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it, love the cover.
    I don't suppose James Bond is up your street, I do know he had very fancy cars, Aston Martins I think!!

  4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

  5. E.M. Forster's 'The Celestial Omnibus'is one of my favourite short stories, but of course this is a horse drawn omnibus so may not count.

  6. Is Christopher Morley's _Parnassus on Wheels_, written in 1917, too early for you? Hey, and it's about books too...

    I see the options for writing under one's name have changed again - so, I'll just sign this: nancy b t

  7. Max Beerbohm's story "James Pethel", in Seven Men. An all time classic of the new-fangled motor car.

    Dr. Johnson loved fast driving. From Life of Johnson, somewhere in 1777:

    In our way, Johnson strongly expressed his love of driving fast in a post-chaise. ‘If (said he,) I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation.’

  8. The Caravaneres by Elizabeth von Arnim. Should be right up your street!


I've now moved to www.stuckinabook.com, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at www.stuckinabook.com.