Surviving Civilisation

My 30 Journeys beyond the Horizon (1983-2019)

Original title: Přežít civilizaci. Mých 30 cest za obzor (1983-2019)
Publisher: Mladá fronta, 2020
ISBN: 9788020456939
339 pages

In this richly illustrated travelogue, the author takes the reader on trips he has undertaken over the past four decades – to lands as diverse as Romania, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the Philippines and Antarctica. All of these journeys have one feature in common: they are far from being comfortable.

The passionate traveller Martin Vopěnka always ventures into the wilderness, to depend on raw nature’s mercy as well as facing its mercilessness. Vopěnka makes no claims to be a hero or even a truly great traveller, his daring experience may be an inspiration for everyone. Even if readers accompany him only across the pages of his book, they will be drawn into the thrill of a unique adventure. Recollections of sometimes humorous, sometimes life-threatening incidents are interspersed with meditative reflections and deeper observations. Thus this reading is more than just an exciting travelogue. It is also a penetrating statement about the author’s generation and a report on the state of the planet as well as human civilisation. One fascinating figure in the book is the polar explorer and Himalayan mountaineer Jaroslav Pavlíček, the guru of all courageous adventurers and one of the toughest men in the world.

The author’s sparse language gives the adventure itself room; the reader experiences surviving in the wild and shares the author’s respect for mountains, forests, rivers, animals.

This unusual travelogue begins in the 1980s, when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain. At that time, the world and travel were very different than they are nowadays. The author guides the reader through decades of change, letting them consider the devastating impact of mass tourism on the planet. But the book is also a statement about the self-development of a young student into a mature man. A moving, dramatic, thought-provoking testimony.

Other books by Martin Vopěnka

Age: 9+, Children's Literature
Age: 9+, Children's Literature
Age: 12+, Children's Literature, Science Fiction
Modern Fiction
Modern Fiction