A Visit to Don Otavio: A Traveller's Tale from Mexico

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Press:Counterpoint Counterpoint (April 2003)
Publication Date:2003-3
Author Name:Bedford, Sybille


Before returning to the Old World after World War II, Sybille Bedford resolved to see something more of the New. 
I had a great longing to move, she said, to hear another language, eat new food, to be in a country with a long nasty history in the past and as little present history as possible.
And so she set out for Mexico--and, incidentally, to write what Bruce Chatwin called the best travel book of the twentieth century, a book of marvels, to be read again and again and again.

About the Author

Sybille Bedford was born in 1911, in Charlottenburg, Germany, and was brought up in Italy, England, and France. 
in 1953, she made her literary debut with A Visit to Don Otavio, and has since published eight other books - including Jigsaw, A Legacy, A Favourite of the Gods, and A Compass Error, as well as classic accounts of criminal trials and other courtroom cases, and an acclaimed biography of her mentor Aldous Huxley.
She was vice president of English PEN and one of Britain's nine Companions of Literature.
Bedford lived in London where she passed away in February 2006.


Travel,Mexico,General,Literature & Fiction,Essays & Correspondence,Essays,Travel Writing

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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     No doubt one of the most satisfying book you could possibly find!You go back in a lost world, you travel for almost free, you plunge in a pool of humor, you learn some...
  •     The author is so dry, so droll, so much fun from another era. When I read this I long for a martini and cigarette, just out of nostalgia for a time when these things were not bad for you.
  •     Sybille Bedford is one of my favorite writer and this book like all her others is simply exceptional!.
  •     This book is fun to read. People who know and love Mexico might find parts of it a bit irritating. Bedford was a cosmopolitan European who in many ways couldn't really understand other parts of the world. But she wrote with wit and humour and her descriptions of Mexico in the late 1940s are interesting. She was acerbic about the people she met, both Mexicans and expats, but also sympathetic.
  •     This is one of the best books of travel literature I have read. Although it is about a personal trip, decades ago, the truly fine writing provides insights into the culture, flora and fauna, some principal destinations and gives a wonderfully clear version of the truly complex history of this country. The story itself is charming, all about travel in the grand British style of days gone by. The book is elegant, cultivated,, funny and a great way to enhance travel to Mexico, either before or after a trip. Sybille Bedford is a fine, fine writer in all formats but especially travel.
  •     This is an absolutely charming but non-sacchrine account of travel in Mexico following World War II.
  •     I can hardly believe I let this book sit on my bookshelves for a couple of years without reading it.
  •     A visit to Don Otavio is an armchair adventure - a visit to mid-20th century Mexico, replete with keen observations on the mayhem, madness, beauty, surprise and artistry that...
  •     I've enjoyed this travel book more than any I've read in a long time. Educational and enjoyable. Anyone who has done any traveling anywhere can have a good chuckle at the culture clashes that come from traveling in Mexico or any country where you're not familiar with the customs. These women weren't afraid of adventure and certainly found plenty of it! In spite of the frustrations of things not always going their way, they never resort to racial slurs or any real putdowns of the people they meet. And what a trip. They saw some of the most beautiful parts of Mexico before they've become over-run with tourists. I think the spirit in which they travel is something more people need when going to a foreign country. Go with the flow and everything will work out in the end. A wonderful read.
  •     I had never been in Mexico. But had read Don Octavio twice plus several books about Mexico and it's history.My first trip was to San Miguel de Allende. A place to be in a dream.It was the perfect travel companion as all Sybille Bedfords books are.It felt as if I could travel in both time periods of the now and of the story.A delight!
  •     Non Fiction, Mexican travel diaryAnother "if only I'd read it before visiting Mexico!!!!"Just loved it! It is so hard not to be boring and cliched and write that this was "charming" ... but it charmed the socks off me. Her observations were unaffected and personal, sometimes insightful, sometimes naive.This was travel writing at it's best. You visit Mexico (early 1950's) through her eyes and see the colour, taste the food, feel the hospitality and become immersed in the history. And all with a laugh. Her observations are simply and humorously written, the information is fascinating and the writing style is compelling ... a perfect combination for a personable, yet idiosyncratic, travelogue.I am sure that everyone who reads this book would sigh with a wish that they could have travelled with her!
  •     ...if you want an elegant and thoughtful yet accessible story about 1950s Mexico and what one intelligent writer and her friend saw and did there. Ms Bedford is reported to have not taken notes in her travels in Mexico; instead, she sent postcards to her friends from there and then, when she was ready to write, "called them in." A versatile and clever, well-traveled woman who wrote several books in a variety of genres, Ms Bedford gave us here a window to Mexico not opened often enough and also a gripping view of her ideas about society and its various cultures.
  •     you will never read another travel book in the same way after having read this book. A must for all travel writing junkies.

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