In Morocco isn’t really a travel journal, since it hardly includes any personal impressions. Well, a few here and there but mostly it’s a history of the country’s numerous occupations and a run down of the architecture of the cities Wharton visits. Also, there is a lot of “isn’t it fabulous what the French did with the place?!”
After World War I, Edith Wharton & Co. travel around Morocco. In the Preface, Wharton says that she was glad to have seen Morocco before it was overrun by tourists. Ironic considering that’s what she was, right? But I understand what she means, tourists come to expect a certain dog and pony show put on by locals (everywhere, not just Morocco). She saw Morocco by car on the new “macadamized” roads, but without the hordes.
I was unsure who exactly Wharton travelled with or for what purpose. Was this just a whim or an official visit? For sure she and her party are trotted around and presented here and there. Either someone she knew was connected or there was a lot of moola exchanged. There were a couple of adventures: Wharton and her party have their car break down in the desert, come upon a festival, and visit a harem. These were enjoyable scenes in an otherwise dry read.
Wharton spends most of the book going over the history of the various wars and conquerors of the country while trying to explain the architecture to the reader. She says it’s not a guide book but it’s difficult to imagine what she is explaining when you’re not there. There were no photographs in my ebook but they are available in the Project Gutenberg version. I tried to follow along on her travels through the magic of Google but that got tedious after awhile.
In Morocco could have been something interesting. Wharton was so good at creating characters with complex emotion. Rarely does she show emotion here. She’s upset by the slavery of children and the stifling conditions of the harem. Beyond this it’s “here’s a beautiful mosque” things you could find out by picking up in any guide book. She says it beautifully, of course, but what does a modern reader want from In Morocco?
This was part of my Genteel Ladies in Foreign Lands project. I’m hoping for something a bit more personal from the next lady. Fingers crossed.