Prior to transitioning to life as a woman, Jan Morris, then James Morris, visited Trieste as a British soldier at the end of the Second World War. This short, fascinating book provides a brief, imaginative history of a city that meant a great deal to the author.
Morris describes the massive growth of the city as it was adopted as the main port of the otherwise landlocked Habsburg Empire. She then takes us through the years of Fascist rule and the subsequent Cold War, during which Trieste finally became an official appendage of Italy. Being just one port of many to Italy, the city lost its strategic importance, and entered into years of slow decline and faded glory.
During the telling of the city’s tale, Morris adds personal but entirely plausible embellishments to the narrative. Usually, this sort of thing would annoy me, but they made the city come alive. Many times while reading this book, I was reminded of W.G. Sebald’s Vertigo, with which is shares a certain periodic style.
I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book, and have every intention of exploring more of Morris’s books about ‘Place’ in future.