An Open Door
The history of Wales as a destination and confection of English Romantic
writers is well-known, but this book reverses the process, turning a Welsh
gaze on the rest of the world.
This shift is timely: the severing of Britain from the European Union asks
questions of Wales about its relationship to its own past, to the British
state, to Europe and beyond, while the present political, public health
and environmental crises mean that travel writing can and should never
again be the comfortably escapist genre that it was. Our modern anxieties
over identity are registered here in writing that questions in a personal,
visceral way the meaning of belonging and homecoming, and reflects a
search for stability and solace as much as a desire for adventure. Here are
lyrical stories refracted through kaleidoscopes of family and world history,
alongside accounts of forced displacement and the tenacious love that
exists between people and places. Yet these pieces also show the enduring
value and joy of travel itself. As Eluned Gramich expresses it 'It's one of
the pleasures of travel to submit yourself to other people, let yourself be
guided and taught'.
Taken together, the stories of An Open Door extend Jan Morris' legacy into
a turbulent present and even more uncertain future. Whether seen from
Llyn or the Somali desert, we still take turns to look out at the same stars,
and it might be this recognition, above all, that encourages us to hold the
door open for as long as we can.