Essay

Mireille Berman

Travel

27 september 2021

When will we be able to speak of the pandemic in the past tense? Perhaps we are still in the middle, or even at the beginning of something that we cannot yet fully oversee – and still we are already tempted to look back. The same goes for me. Many of the titles in the brochure involve travel, beaten paths are abandoned, searches and quests undertaken, and it’s very tempting to see this as a sign of the times.

We have spent the past year indoors, after all, confined to our own homes, restricted in our movements, largely deprived of contact with the outside world. The experience of travel, of impromptu conversations, sudden vistas, of straying along unknown paths, exists only in our memories.

Fortunately literature helps us out of this isolation. Writers have always been our guides to unknown regions, they provide us with a view of the foreign and the other, but at the same time show us that we can feel at home anywhere as long as we look and listen. You don’t actually have to set off on a journey for this.

That experience, the travel and exploration of what seems unknown, is central to this autumn’s offerings. The fifteen titles in this brochure lead us along the Rhine, into space, to a car factory in Japan, to the German countryside, to slave plantations in Suriname and to the early medieval world of the Vikings. The authors take us on a walk through Amsterdam and through a silent Paris, and show world-famous works of art in museums. They guide us to the Habsburg Empire, through the Balkans, Liberia and southern Italy. And we can also travel inwards, to the depths of our souls, into the abysses of fear and panic, in search of solid ground under our feet.

Over the past year we have stayed in touch with international editors and publishers through a monthly Editors’ Hour, during which interesting and inspiring conversations were had about the international book trade. These Editors’ Hours made up for a lot – but now we’re looking forward to real encounters again and hope to be able to exchange thoughts with you in the near future. Email us at m.berman@letterenfonds.nl for an appointment – online is fine but even better in person.

Mireille Berman

Writers have always been our guides to unknown regions, they provide us with a view of the foreign and the other, but at the same time show us that we can feel at home anywhere as long as we look and listen. You don’t actually have to set off on a journey for this.