Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Journey into the Mind's EyeFragments of an Autobiography
by Lesley Blanch, introduction by Georgia de Chamberet
July 2018 selection for the NYRB Classics Book Club.
“My book is not altogether autobiography, nor altogether travel or history either. You will just have to invent a new category,” Lesley Blanch wrote about Journey into the Mind’s Eye, a book that remains as singularly adventurous and intoxicating now as when it first came out in 1968.
Russia seized Lesley Blanch when she was still a child. A mysterious traveler—swathed in Siberian furs, bearing Fabergé eggs and icons as gifts along with Russian fairy tales and fairy tales of Russia—came to visit her parents and left her starry-eyed. Years later the same man returned to sweep her off her feet. Her love affair with the Traveller, as she calls him, transformed her life and fueled an abiding fascination with Russia and Russian culture, one that would lead her to dingy apartments reeking of cabbage soup and piroshki on the outskirts of Paris in the 1960s, and to Siberia and beyond.
Blanch’s brilliance lies in her honesty about the subjectivity of her work. For her, travel is neither an act of discovery nor an explication….but the endless attempt to bridge that vast land of otherness with the worlds we’ve created in our own minds….If Blanch’s Journey isn’t a traditional travelogue, it’s not because she can’t write about the Russia in front of her. It’s because that Russia…can never be the only one she sees.
—Tara Isabella Burton, The Paris Review
She was incapable of writing boringly or badly…[Journey is an] incomparably eccentric exercise in autobiography.
—Philip Ziegler, The Spectator
Everything about [Blanch] was abundant…She reminded you irresistibly of a gilded cupid, knowing neither vice nor virtue, but playful and loving, pouring out affection, humour, ideas, plans, stories, words from her rich cornucopia of personality.
This book is a jewel: the prose is immaculate, the delineation of the human heart is unclouded by sentiment.
—Kevin McGrath, Harvard Review
It is hard to classify her as a writer, unless as a scholarly romantic in a school of her own. Such is the depth of her research that other writers plunder her books shamelessly.
—Maureen Cleave, The Daily Telegraph