A LOS ANGELES book publisher whose firm has focused primarily on journeys into the self has begun to explore the world at large, recently inaugurating a series of re-releases of important out-of-print travel accounts.
"Intrepid" and "articulate" is how Jeremy Tarcher of J.P. Tarcher Inc. describes the authors he has chosen to include in his Library of Travel Classics, most of which first appeared from the mid-1800s through the first half of this century.
The first two in the series (paperbacks) reached the bookstores this summer, and the authors aptly match Tarcher's description:
In "Seven Years in Tibet" ($8.95), Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer recounts his 21-month trek from India through the Himalayas to Tibet after escaping from an internment camp during World War II. British writer Peter Fleming set out in 1935 on a seven-month, 3,500-mile overland trip from Peking to India, often passing through hostile regions. He tells his story in "News From Tartary" ($9.50), written the following year.
Tarcher, whose firm is a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin, sees a resurgence of interest in travel literature of the past, before jet flight, when simply getting to a remote place became an often-dangerous challenge. He anticipates bringing out four books a year -- printing between 5,000 and 7,000 of each -- and he currently is negotiating for reprint rights to about 15. He anticipates the series as a "long-term" effort.
"The market's not as large as for 'Princess Daisy' a bestseller by his sister, Judith Krantz , but it is large enough to make it worthwhile for a publisher to offer these books to an audience that's there."
Tarcher caught the travel bug after graduating in 1953 from the "100 Great Books" curriculum of St. John's College in Annapolis. He spent the first year out of school on a jaunt through Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It was a "wonderful" second education "for which I'm extremely grateful."
Among his upcoming titles: Fleming's "Brazilian Adventure" and two by Freya Stark, a British woman now in her 90s, "Valley of the Assassins" and "The Southern Gates of Arabia."
New this fall: A three-hour cruise on the history-rich James River from Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, to Shirley Plantation, an 800-acre estate owned by the same family for nine generations. Fall foliage for daytime sailors aboard the 150-passenger American Patriot, or starlight by night.
The trip proved so popular one weekend early this summer that the Richmond-on-the-James organization decided to offer additional outings again this month, Oct. 7-14 and Oct. 18-30. Mondays through Wednesdays, the cruises are limited to charters, but two trips daily are scheduled for the general public: Thursdays through Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Starlight cruises Thursdays and Sundays only at 5 p.m.
The fare is $10; $5 for children 2 to 12, and reservations are recommended. The ship departs from Richmond Intermediate Terminal on Dock Street, five minutes east of Shockoe Slip -- a redeveloped area of shops, restaurants and bars.
For information and reservations: Richmond-on-the-James Heritage Center, 104 Shockoe Slip, Richmond, Va. 23219 or (804) 780-0107.