Few titles are capable of encapsulating the essence of overlanding by motorcycle, but I am yet to discover one that encompasses everything about it – the dreaming, passion, excitement, hardship and spiritual uplift – with such aplomb. It is with good reason that Jupiter’s Travels continues to be in print even though the manuscript was delivered to the publisher in 1979 and immediately went onto the presses unaltered.
The story of Ted Simon’s four year global odyssey is well known, and if you are unfamiliar with it I’m afraid I am not about to summarise the book. What I have just had the pleasure of experiencing is the full and unabridged tale, read to me by Rupert Degas, whose delivery is quite magical. If you aren’t a big reader, or life currently conspires to fill your quiet time, the release this winter of the Audiobook version of Jupiter’s Travels will be a godsend.
This new edition of the classic work is far from dull monologue. Rupert Degas is a multi-award winning narrator and the breadth of his delivery allows Ted’s original work to shine even more. The professionalism with which the prose is read reinforces the eloquence of the author and brings energy to the listening experience.
In truth I read Jupiter’s Travels in 1989 for the first time and was moved by it, but I had no idea how much, until the words came at me from these 14 CDs, and whole sentences were familiar, as though I’d read them yesterday. Landscapes, moments of social interaction, of frustration and of joy that had lain dormant were reinvigorated for me and frankly I had forgotten, or perhaps become blasé, about the quality of that original text. His reading of life in a face, description of the way a piece of clothing can hang or the honesty with which he deals with his own feelings and prejudices are incredibly moving and for almost 17 hours’ listening, Degas is Simon and you are right there.
If there is a downside to this Naxos AudioBooks release, it is the price at £50, but there is a cheaper (£33) download version. But what price for this window on the world and the inspiration you will inevitably gain from it? It’s impossible not to. This remains travel writing at its absolute best, bike or no bike, narrator or not. If you’re yet to discover what all the fuss is about, purchasing a copy in either digital or paper format really should climb to the top of your to-do list.
14 CDs Total time: 16:51:56 (NA0239)
£50 (Downloadable version £33)