Around the World in 72 Days by Nellie Bly - Nellie Bly I'm finally getting around to reading these pdf files of Nellie Bly's writing - so first here are a few links:Nellie Bly online - her writings, all available for download as pdfs, including scans of the newspaper articles, such that you can see the surrounding text and illustrations. Really great stuff. (PDF file from here is only 91 pgs long, not a long read.)Celebration of Women Writers - Around the World in 72 Days, online version, UPennAround the World in 72 Days - wikipedia articleIt seems odd but currently those are the best links to this story - I couldn't find any of Bly's books at Gutenberg besides audio files. Meanwhile if any of this interests you I really encourage you to check out the whole of the Nellie Bly online website - really great, very thorough history. Also do read about how Bly became a journalist and what her home life was like - it really adds to understanding of this particular adventure. Because Bly is very much like a heroine of an adventure tale, especially in her style of writing (and in the journalism of the day).On to random quotes and commentary! From the first chapter:"... "I want to go around in eighty days or less. I think I can beat Phileas Fogg's record. May I try it?"To my dismay he told me that in the office they had thought of this same idea before and the intention was to send a man. However he offered me the consolation that he would favor my going, and then we went to talk with the business manager about it."It is impossible for you to do it," was the terrible verdict. "In the first place you are a woman and would need a protector, and even if it were possible for you to travel alone you would need to carry so much baggage that it would detain you in making rapid changes. Besides you speak nothing but English, so there is no use talking about it; no one but a man can do this.""Very well," I said angrily, "Start the man, and I'll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.""I believe you would," he said slowly."It was not really mocking to make the comment about luggage in 1889 - part of the first chapter Bly discusses her dress and packing, because clothes were bulky, especially for women. I do like how Bly is ready to stand up an argue in this scene. You get the feeling that she wasn't always easy to be around because of this tendency. And she seems pretty honest about her flaws throughout the book, which I also liked.I did love that she had problems getting up to catch her boat (Ch. 2):"...Those who think that night is the best part of the day and that morning was made for sleep, know how uncomfortable they feel when for some reason they have to get up with–well, with the milkman.I turned over several times before I decided to quit my bed. I wondered sleepily why a bed feels so much more luxurious, and a stolen nap that threatens the loss of a train is so much more sweet, than those hours of sleep that are free from duty's call. I half promised myself that on my return I would pretend sometime that it was urgent that I should get up so I could taste the pleasure of a stolen nap without actually losing anything by it. I dozed off very sweetly over these thoughts to wake with a start, wondering anxiously if there was still time to catch the ship."But then I'm not a fan of early mornings myself.No matter how intrepid Bly seems, it should be noted that she was traveling alone, and was not at all prepared to be annoyed that gentleman were going to step up and offer to help, or insist on it. Because, well, it was 1889, and so this is normal. She had contacts via her newspaper, who set up men to meet and assist her. Not that this diminishes the difficulty of her trip in the least - because she could speak only English this meant that she was going to have to frequently look to others for help. However it's not that Bly always has problems with the language. When she's with a fellow newspaperman (who's British) accompanying her in France (Ch. 3):"...We took our places at the table and he began to order in French. The waiter looked blankly at him until, at last, more in a spirit of fun than anything else, I suggested that he give the order in English. The waiter glanced at me with a smile and answered in English."You can't help but notice Bly championing all things American here and there - but then, that's just the sort of thing her American readership would enjoy. There are occasional exceptions, such as noting the board in Aden (Ch. 8) that lists set prices for boat rides, drivers, etc. and suggesting that New York could use this idea to keep the city cab drivers from over-charging people....On the topic of English railway carriages (Ch. 3):"Small wonder the American girl is fearless. She has not been used to so called private compartments in English railway carriages, but to large crowds, and every individual that helpsto swell that crowd is to her a protector. When mothers teach their daughters that there is safety in numbers, and that numbers are the body-guard that shield all woman-kind, then chaperones will be a thing of the past, and women will be nobler and better."Here I should add that it's in traveling by train that Bly makes specific notes of what it's like for men versus women. For instance (Ch. 5) women not eating dinner on the train with men as it's "not exactly the thing."Completely worthwhile for Jules Verne fans is Chapter 4 - Jules Verne at Home, where Bly interviews the author via a translator, and discusses where he got the idea for the book Around the World in 80 Days. (Short answer, a newspaper article.)"My line of travel is from New York to London, then Calais, Brindisi, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Aden, Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York.""Why do you not go to Bombay as my hero Phileas Fogg did?" M. Verne asked."Because I am more anxious to save time than a young widow," I answered."You may save a young widower before you return," M. Verne said with a smile.I smiled with a superior knowledge, as women, fancy free, always will at such insinuations.Bly is wonderful at descriptions of her fellow passengers (Ch. 6):"There was another young man on board who was quite as unique a character and much more interesting to me. He told me that he had been traveling constantly since he was nine years old, and that he had always killed the desire to love and marry because he never expected to find a woman who could travel without a number of trunks, and bundles innumerable. I noticed that he dressed very exquisitely and changed his apparel at least three times a day, so my curiosity made me bold enough to ask how many trunks he carried with him."Nineteen," was the amazing reply. I no longer wondered at his fears of getting a wife who could not travel without trunks."...These couple of sentences (Ch. 10):"The people here, as at other ports where I stopped, constantly chew betel nut, and when they laugh one would suppose they had been drinking blood. The betel nut stains their teeth and mouthfuls blood-red. Many of the natives also fancy tinting their finger-nails with it."...Had me immediately checking wikipedia for more information on betel nuts. If I remember I'll look in some of our local asian markets and see if we have any of those products, just out of curiosity. (Yes, I read the bit about cancer, I won't be trying any.)...And now I'm dead curious to know what a philopoena is (Ch. 11):"He had lost their address but his heart was true, for he had lost a philopoena to one and though he did not know her habitation he bought the philopoena and put it in a bank in London where it awaits some farther knowledge of the fair young American's whereabouts."...Apparently I should now read In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World by Elizabeth Bisland, as there's another story there, linked to this one. Full text found online here. ...There's really no part of the narrative where you aren't very aware that Bly is telling us, her readers, of her perspective on things. And she does expect a portion of her readers to be women. Such as here (Ch. 12):"At every port I touched I found so many bachelors, men of position, means and good appearance, that I naturally began to wonder why women do not flock that way. It was all very well some years ago to say, "Go West, young man;" but I would say, "Girls, go East!" There are bachelors enough and to spare! And a most happy time do these bachelors have in the East. They are handsome, jolly and good natured. They have their own fine homes with no one but the servants to look after them. Think of it, and let me whisper, "Girls, go East!""...Bly does look upon the natives of various places as "the other" - or at least that's how I read it. I've read some extremely awful accounts from this time period where natives (of various countries) are considered "things" or "beast-like," and I was somewhat dreading how Bly would write of them - thankfully Bly never goes anywhere near that sort of prose. Having said that, there are moments - like when she describes the people that pull/carry the rickshaws/vehicles/sedan chairs - where she describes the people as being a sort of beast of burden. (Not ever having lived with a servant class I'm not sure what's "normal" in that.) There are a number of eye-rolling moments, but nothing horrifying, again considering the year. Lines like (ch 12): "I knew we were trying to keep the Chinamen out of America, so I decided to see all of them I could while in their land." have a lot more to do with American attitude in general, and not just Bly. (As always, it's good to look back on this sort of stuff, and be thankful we're at least a little advanced.) ...Ok I wrote that before I read her description where she pokes fun at/mocks the "Japanese men in native dress" (Ch. 15) - and that plus the previous descriptions of natives adds up to her seeming more of an ugly American. We're still not at a level where I want to throw this against a wall, because just after that description she compliments the people in various ways. But I'm just not on board with her "let's laugh at the oddities" style. Much eyerolling over her summing up of the Chinese versus Japanese people....Wait Really? Moment: Bly not buying anything else because of lack of luggage space, but DID buy a monkey?!...Here's a sample of Bly's descriptions (and there have been many, I've just gotten sidetracked by other details) - the view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak (Ch. 12):"The bay, in a breastwork of mountains, lies calm and serene, dotted with hundreds of ships that seem like tiny toys. The palatial white houses come half way up the mountain side, beginning at the edge of the glassy bay. Every house we notice has a tennis-court blasted out of the mountain side. They say that after night the view from the peak is unsurpassed. One seems to be suspended between two heavens. Every one of the several thousand boats and sampans carries a light after dark. This, with the lights on the roads and in the houses, seems to be a sky more filled with stars than the one above."..So rating this would probably have been a 3 for the descriptions, the history, and frankly for the courage that it took for Bly to make such a trip. But the "in your face" Americanism and laughter at the natives got a bit tedious, and bumped it to down to a 2. I have read quite a few of her columns and on the whole like those better.