When a friend of her parents whom she simply calls ‘The Traveller’ blew into her nursery, muffled in heavy furs and full of the fairy tales of Russia, with gifts of Fabergé eggs and icons, he instilled in her a lifelong passion.
Lesley Blanch was twenty when he swept out of her life, leaving her in the grip of a tremendous obsession.
The search to recapture her great love, and the Russia he had planted within her, takes her to dingy apartments reeking of cabbage soup and piroshkis on the outskirts of Paris in the 1960s; to Siberia and beyond – journeying deep into the romantic terrain of the mind’s eye. Part travel book, part love story, Lesley Blanch’s memoir is pure intoxication.
DAILY TELEGRAPH: “The stuff that dreams are made of . . .”
PHILIP ZIEGLER: “If you are interested in Russia – if you are interested in love – this haunting book is one to read and re-read. A masterpiece”
SPECTATOR: “One of the finest books about Russia . . . one of the best travel books of its generation”
NEWSDAY: “A jewel-filled narrative – breathtaking, exotic and brilliant”
TOM DRIBERG, PEOPLE: “A curiously beautiful daydream of a book . . . irresistible reading”
Autobiography & Memoir. Collins, 1968, illus.
UK edition: Eland Publishing, 2001. 352 pages £12.99 ISBN 978-1900209128
US edition: New York Review of Books Classics, 2018 400 pages $9.23 978-1681371931
Chinese edition, Marco Polo Press, Cité Publishing 2018
French edition (OP) translated by Guillaume Villeneuve. (Editions Denoel, 2003)
The Art of Narrative Non-fiction
When Lesley Blanch wrote that “Journey into the Mind’s Eye is not altogether autobiography, nor altogether travel or history either. You will just have to invent a new category . . .” the label narrative non-fiction did not yet exist. Her autobiography about the early part of her life was published in 1968. She was ahead of her time. Like Rebecca West and Truman Capote, Lesley Blanch was experimenting with different forms and techniques to tell a damn good ‘true’ story . . .