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0530 | The Unfortunate Traveller | Thomas Nashe

0530 | The Unfortunate Traveller | Thomas Nashe post image

Context: Read this while staying in a cottage along the Rochdale Canal.

Here’s a funny old book. Not very long, for which I am thankful, and possibly the only Tudor ‘novel’ on the 1001 list, for which I am also thankful.

It’s a picaresque novel and arguably one of the first and this has earned it a place on the 1001 Books list. It’s almost definitely the shortest because writers of picaresque novels never know when to shut up. It’s a genre which I’m grateful has dropped out of favour with modern readers and writers.

I can barely remember what happened, not least because my edition was a reprint of the original text complete with original spelling which, compared to modern standard spelling, requires some lateral thinking to process. Then there’s vocabulary which we simply don’t use anymore for which the Internet was essential.

Then there’s a story which isn’t as straightforward as simply a guy going on a jaunt overseas (why must picaresque novels always head overseas?) There were twists and turns of ‘plot’ and the obligatory japes and close calls. I say ‘obligatory’ but, of course, Nashe was one of the first to do this. The popularity of the form in later years testifies to his influence, at least on the English novel.

I wouldn’t bother rushing out to get a copy of this unless you are a real die-hard lit fiend. Having said that, if you are, you’ve probably already read it. What did you think?


Abovt that time that the terror of the world, and feauer quartan of the French, Henrie the eight, (the onely true subject of Chronicles) aduanced his standard against the two hundred and fifitie towers of Turney and Turwin, and had the Empereur and all the nobility of Flanders, Holland and Brabant as mercenarie attendantes on his fulsailed fortune, I Iacke Wilton (a Gentleman at lest) was a certaine kinde of an appendix or page, belonging or appertaining in or vnto the confines of the English court, where what my credit was, a number of my creditors that I coosned can testifie, Caelum petimus stultitia, which of vs all is not a sinner.


Her high exalted sunne beames haue set the phenix neast of my breast on fire, and I my selfe haue brought Arabian spiceries of sweete passions and praises, to furnish out the funerall flame of my folly. Those who were condemned to be smothered to death by sinking downe into the softe bottome of an high built bedde of roses, neuer dide so sweete a death as I should die, if her rose coloured disdaine were my deathsman.


This might reveal the ending. If you want to see the quote, click show

RATING unfortunater
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | StyleRead more about how I come up with my ratings
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