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Charmless Hav

By updating her fictional city, Jan Morris offers a fable of sterile modernisation, a lament for lost culture and a farewell to the purpose of travel

By Kevin Rushby   July 2006

Hav by Jan Morris (Faber & Faber, £16.99)

If my memory serves me well—and it occasionally does—I have visited the legendary peninsula of Hav, a place first brought to public attention by Jan Morris in her 1985 book, Last Letters from Hav. Now reissued in a single volume with its sequel, Hav of the Myrmidons, the book comes with a clear announcement: “A Novel.” I have my doubts about that. Surely those visions of crooked alleyways haunted by drunken poets, disguised celebrities and lost eccentrics were mine too? Did not someone once point out to me an avenue of palms…

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