Nepal Himalaya by H. W. Tilman, With 61 photographs taken by the author
Cambridge, England: University Press, 1952. Hardcover. 271 pages ; plates, maps ; 22 cm. Very good condition with original dust jacket. Pages are toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
Permission to travel in Nepal is hard to get. Reasons are demanded, and Tilman, whose views about scientists are no secret, was compelled to take botanist, naturalist, surgeon-geologist (and he himself even became an indiscriminate capturer of beetles) to justify the wanderings of which this book is the narration. In many of Tilman's purple passages the whole party seems to be adrift in wet forests, lost in mist or drenched in rain, always toiling up unwilfully, or down unwillingly, through slime, nettles, bears, horseflies, leeches, sodden firewood, fern-festooned trees and dripping bamboos, sleeping wet, and living partly off the land. The land is Nepal; 'the largest inhabited country still unexplored by Europeans', Tilman calls it. In Nepal there are, of course, mountains about, and after an intolerable but very readable amount of wet weather and invisibility, laborious and hair-raising attempts are made to climb mountains, but without much success (as might be expected). At times it is the harshest of country, at other times (a few thousand feet lower) the lushest of country, and readers may well be glad that Tilman had a botanist with him, for it is clear that his presence opened the author's eyes too to a flower population rich and incredibly lovely. The religions of this country are Hinduism and Buddhism. The villages, at least in the grudging hills, are built, as in Tibet, on craggy ground, so as to leave what little tillable land there is for the crops.
In fact three journeys are described, the first in 1949 to the Langtang Himal; the second in 1950, to the Annapurna Himal, the third (a bit of luck) with Houston (once of the Nanda Devi party) to the Nepal side of Everest. Tucked into this wet and dry book of travel and climb is the veteran author-traveller-climber, the lover of men and solitudes of all sorts, Tilman with his wit and his allusions, and his crying down of physical feats. And as if to certify credibility there are some sixty photographs of his own, taken on these very journeys, and six maps of a territory only sketchily mapped at all.
H. W. TILMAN Author of The Ascent of Nanda Devi
MOUNT EVEREST 1938 'Tilman is one of our three leading explorers, he has devoted his life to mountain exploration.. . . His name has become a synonym for hardihood.... He has*a rallying and humorous eye for all human behaviour, a terse and supple style equal to the describing of great scenery or of men's endurance and audacity, and a pungent wit that only brings out more clearly the underlying courage and tenacity of purpose.' GEOFFREY WINTHROP YOUNG in Time and Tide
WHEN MEN AND MOUNTAINS MEET 'The vigour and zest that were nourished by climbing mountains, the experience gained in conducting Himalayan expeditions, obviously contributed to Mr Tilman's success in partisan warfare.' The Times Literary Supplement
TWO MOUNTAINS AND A RIVER 'The mountains had not been climbed, the return journey had been badly messed up. At the time the frustrations were real enough; but there is no frustration in the narrative. Like all Tilman's books, it is a record less of achievement than of a special kind of life. . .a man of intelligence and sensibility doing precisely what he most wants to do.' JANET ADAM SMITH in The New Statesman and Nation
CHINA TO CHITRAL 'With wit, apt quotations, and his own peculiar blend of irony and romance, Tilman tells his story... and the incidents and the mountains discover themselves with the inevitable charm of the great days of travel chronicles. He is always entertaining as a writer, because he is himself equally entertained by novelty and discomfort, by beauty or failure, and he can picture them all for us in his own reactions.' Time and Tide
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