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Tropic Temper: A Memoir of Malaya James Kirkup

Tropic Temper: A Memoir of Malaya - James Kirkup

London: Collins, 1963, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Good Dust Wrapper. Plain paper dust wrapper a little edgeworn and faded with heavier toning to the spine which is frayed head and tail, now wrapped in a removable protective sleeve. Priced penned through. Digits to the first blank. A little age-spotting to the edges of the text block.

Includes: Maps (1);

From the cover: “Like all good travel books, Tropic Temper is also a memoir. It is far more than simply a description of Malaya, that peninsula of cloud curried with storms and of the people who live there. It is also concerned with what the author felt about that country and what happened to him during the year he lived there, teaching at the University of Kuala Lumpur and travelling wherever and whenever the spirit moved him.

When he arrived, Kirkup was infuriated and depressed by Malaya and found it disappointing compared with Japan, which was still fresh in his memory and about which he has written in These Horned Islands. But as time went on and he learned more about the country and the three races — Malays, Indians and Chinese — who live there, so his appreciation of it and his affection for them grew. The evolution of his feelings and the development of his understanding of Malaya is as vividly impressive as the descriptions of the landscape, the encounters with individuals, the information about places, festivals, food, animals, religions and so on in which the book abounds. What fascinate me, Kirkup once wrote, are the ordinary things, the daily life. These cannot be looked at like treasures in museums: one simply has to live among them, to get as close to them as possible, to try to learn and understand. He has a wonderful eye, a marvellous ability to be fascinated: he never stirs out without noticing something worth capturing and, in addition, there are passages that are brilliantly funny. Politics, institutions and people — not least himself — are examined with a candid and satirical eye.

The book, like its author, is idiosyncratic, frank, non-conformist and engagingly uninhibited. Its combinations of shock and delight, information and entertainment, poetic description and biting satire make a book as wonderfully stimulating — and unforgettable — as a piping hot Indonesian curry with iced pineapple. It is difficult to conceive of a more useful introduction for someone who was about to go to Malaya, a more evocative reminder for those who already know it, or a greater temptation for those of us who have never visited Malacca or Singapore or Penang or seen the turtle-haunted beaches stretching from Tumpat to Kota Tinggi.” Top edge dyed Green;

Size: 8½" x 5¾". Green boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 286 pages.
Tropic Temper: A Memoir of Malaya James Kirkup