Nice journey author, writer, historian and transsexual write Jan Morris dies – HONG KONG BUZZ
Jan Morris, the famous travel writer, historian, and transsexual writer best known for her Pax Britannica trilogy, has passed away at the age of 94.
Pax Britannica’s purple prose is still resonating with fans of Empire. From the third volume, Farewell the Trumpets, on a parade for the Viceroy of India George Nathaniel Curzon:
“That was Empire! Here the illusion ruled reality and the theater came to life. Trumpets sounded, guns fired, soldiers presented guns, elephants snorted, jewels glittered, cameras clicked (almost everyone had a Kodak). . . Here were twelve state trumpeters, twelve military bands and the 40,000 soldiers performing. As the huge polychromatic crowd thundered to their feet, the first solemn tones of the British national anthem fell into the dry air – so dignified, so old, so far from home, so simple in this exotic setting, so touching, so profound, that the soul of India seemed touched. “
It’s florid, typically Morris, but its flowing, elegant style had to be admired.
Jan Morris, born James, was one of the first high-profile people to become transgender. She recorded this transition in her 1974 book Conundrum. Nowhere have we seen a better and more sensitive discussion about it than on www.brainpickings.org by Maria Popova.
As a young man, James was the only journalist on the Everest expedition at the time and later after the transition
A selection of quotes from Jan Morris, compliments to Popova:
- “I was three, maybe four years old when I realized that I was born into the wrong body and was supposed to be a girl.”
- “You are only free when you realize that you belong to no place – you belong to every place – no place at all.”
- “Nobody really knows why some children, boys and girls, discover within themselves the indelible belief that despite all the physical evidence, they are really of the opposite sex. . . No one is born entirely male or entirely female, and some children may be more prone to what psychologists call the “imprint” of circumstance. “
- “Transsexuality. . . is not a sexual type or preference. It’s not sex at all. It’s a passionate, lifelong, ineradicable belief and no true transsexual has ever been disappointed with it. . . In my eyes, if is a topic that goes far beyond gender: I don’t see any prurience for it and see it above all as a dilemma neither of the body nor the brain, but of the spirit. “
- “Oxford made me. . . For near the heart of the Oxford ethos lies the great and comforting truth that there is no norm. We are all different, none of us is completely wrong; to understand is to forgive. “
James Morris married Elizabeth Tuckniss in 1949 and they had five children before James decided to become Jan. He underwent hormone therapy and surgery. They divorced, then lived as a couple in the village of Llanystumdwy in North Wales and formed a civil union. Elizabeth and Jan stayed together for 50 years until Jan died on November 20th. Here are the closing lines in Conundrum: “I never would have thought that my own puzzle was either a matter of science or social convention. I thought it was a matter of the mind, some kind of divine allegory, and that explanations for it weren’t very important anyway. What was important was the freedom of all of us to live how we wanted to live, to love how we wanted to love, and to know ourselves, how strange, disturbing, or unclassifiable, one with the gods and angels. “
In addition to the Pax Britannica series about the rise and fall of Queen Victoria’s empire, Morris Spectacle of Empire wrote about the aesthetics of the era, Coronation of Everest on the first ascent by New Zealander Edmund Hilary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing; Fisher’s Face on the Victorian Sailor – it is clear that Jan loves the Admiral when reading this book. many travel books and one on cities including Hong Kong; and the strange Trieste and the meaning of nowhere.
Anyone who enjoys reading needs to spend a lot of time mentally with Jan Morris.