Ella Maillart


If you like travelling and if you like reading you probably will like the books by Ella Maillart. In a vivide way she lets you take part in what she has seen of countries barely known to Westerners, of foreign cultures, and of different ways of life. While here journeys must have been quite adventerous her books go far beyond this aspect. The fabric of her travel accounts is finely interwoven with facts about the history and politics of the regions she has visited. You learn about people and cultures passed long ago and you get some impressions of the political situation around the time of her expeditions.


About the author, taken from the jacket of "Ausser Kurs":

Ellla Maillart was born in 1903 in Geneva, Switzerland. She gained international recognition as an expert for Asia, an ethnologist, and a writer with her two books "Des Monts célestes aux Sables rouges" (1934) and "Oasis interdits. De Pékin au Cachemire" (1937). At age 20 she sailed in a small boat on the Mediterranean and over the Atlantic to England. She participated in the Swiss sailing team at the olympic games in 1924 in Paris. She founded the first women hockey team of Switzerland and took part in international ski races. Later Ella Maillarts interest turned to the variety of cultures and people in Asia. From 1930 until the late 50s she traveled the region many times, in particular the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, China, Tibet, India, Nepal. Her last trip she made at the age of 83 to Tibet. The remaining years she spent in Switzerland, in Geneva and the mountain valleys of the Wallis. She died on march 27, 1997.


Books by Ella Maillart:

Parmi la jeunesse russe. De Moscou au Caucase. Paris, 1932
German title:
Ausser Kurs
Des Monts célestes aux Sables rouges. Paris, 1934
German title:
Turkestan Solo.
Oasis interdits. De Pékin au Cachemire. Paris, 1937
German title:
Verbotene Reise. Von Peking nach Kaschmir. Cruises and Caravans. London, 1942
German title:
Leben ohne Rast - Eine Frau faehrt durch die Welt.
Gypsy afloat. London, 1947
German titles:
Auf abenteuerlicher Fahrt durch Iran und Afghanistan.
Fluechtige Idylle.
Ti-Puss. London, 1951
German title:
Ti-Puss - Drei Jahre in Suedindien mit einer Katze als Kamerad.
The land of the Sherpas, London 1955.


Parmi la jeunesse russe. De Moscou au Caucase./
Ausser Kurs:


Russia 1930. After the revolution and before Stalin. A land full of hope. In this book Ella Maillart manages to convey some of the enthusiasm and feelings of some Russian people of that time.


Oasis interdits. De Pékin au Cachemire./
Verbotene Reise. Von Peking nach Kaschmir.:


In 1935 Ella Maillart startet to an adventerous journey from
Peking to Cashmer. On train, on lorry, on horseback, on mule, and on foot. Initially intending to set out alone she finally traveled together with Peter Fleming who first also intended to make the trip on his own. Back in Europe she published her impressions in the form of a book. The book is not only a fascinating description of a journey through regions mostly unknown to westerners even today but also a fine description of the people, culture, and places the two met on their journey.
Peter Fleming also published a book on their common trip, "News from Tartary" Great Britain, 1936. Although the trip was the same the two books are not. If you read one of them you probaly will enjoy reading the other as well.


Gypsy afloat/
Auf abenteuerlicher Fahrt durch Iran und Afghanistan/
Fluechtige Idylle:


In June 1939 Ella Mailart and
Annemarie Schwarzenbach left Switzerland by car, heading towards Turkey and Iran. Finally they arrived in Afghanistan. Another brilliant description of foreign peoples and cultures. And a very sensitive book about the joined journey of two very different women. The one energetic, foreward looking, the other very sensitive and addicted to morphine. Both emancipated and both somehow not feeling comfortable in the European society of that time.


Ti-Puss/
Ti-Puss - Drei Jahre in Suedindien mit einer Katze als Kamerad:


Do you like cats? Do you like foreign cultures? Than this may be a book for you. For me it definitly was. During her three years stay in
southern India, where she is mostly engaged in trying to learn from wise men, Ella Maillart finds a new, furry friend: Ti-Puss , as she will call her. Embedded in colourful descriptions of Indian life this books gives an account of their quite peculiar relationship. They go together for long walks and their common trips by train and bus often become small adventures. If you are so lucky as to have a furry feline companion as well - and vice versa - you are likely to come across familiar scences all over the book.


Some further links:

About Ella Maillart
Ella Maillart on wikipedia


Send comments to Doris Folini
Last Update: October 19, 2010