LITERATURE: “To Travel” vs. “To Wander” (GreatNovels.org Interviews Author, Roman Payne)

Republished from GreatNovels.org

“To wander is to be alive.”

– Roman Payne

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

“Wandering is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.”

– Roman Payne

On April 10th, 2015, William Sheller at GreatNovels.org asks Roman Payne:

“Mr. Payne, your new novel, The Love of Europa, was just partially published – that is, the first 13 chapters were released to give readers a taste for what to expect.  Do you intend to serial publish more of the book?  Or will the next release be the entire book?”

Roman Payne:  It will be the entire book, it should come out this summer.  I have to finish writing it first, though.

William Sheller:  It is an amazing beginning, I have to say.  Personally, I enjoyed reading those first 70 or so pages more than anything you’ve ever written.  I like it even more than The Wanderess, which some people believed would be your masterpiece, and perhaps your final work.

RP:  Did they think I would drop dead?  Or just take up watercolours instead of writing? …No, but I see what you mean.  I hesitated to start a book after writing The Wanderess because I was worried that I couldn’t outdo The Wanderess.  I thought that was the best writing I was capable of, and I didn’t want to make a slipshod performance to follow it.

WS:  Well The Love of Europa is anything but slipshod!  It is a beautiful story, beautifully written, and it will find a large market because it speaks primarily to “young women who love to travel.”  And there are a lot of young women who love to travel, and those who love to travel tend to have the time to read a lot.

RP:  Yes, well like all my books, it is written for the wanderers of the world.

WS:  That is something I wanted to ask you… your thoughts on travel vs. wandering.  May I print the first paragraph of The Love of Europa so people reading this can see what I’m talking about?

RP:  Be my guest.

WS:  You wrote: “She called herself Europa, and wandered the world from girlhood till death. She lived every kind of life and dreamt every kind of dream. She was wild in her wandering, a drop of free water. She believed only in her life and in her dreams. She called herself Europa, and her god was Beauty.”

RP:  Do you like it?

WS:  It’s excellent.  You are like a classical composer who reuses bits of his own melodies in multiple symphonies.  You take one of your quotes – one of your “wanderess” quotes, for example – and spin it into a new phrase, into a new literary quote, into a new poem.

RP:  If you hit on something you like, why not create variations on that theme?

WS:  Exactly.  But my question here is about your use of the word “wandering” and “wandered” (“she was wild in her wandering”)… doesn’t wandering mean, sort of, walking about aimlessly!

RP:  Not at all!   (He punches the table)

RP:  You know, “wandering” is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.  Let me find something in my manuscript for The Love of Europa that I wrote to explain this.  Somebody else asked me what “wandering” really means, and why I don’t use the word “travelling” instead.  And I’ll tell you why.  I wrote this to explain to that person why I use “wander” and not travel”; and then I thought, you know, a lot of people reading The Love of Europa are going to have this question, so I decided to include this paragraph in the book:

The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler”), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both at one with and separate from the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries, Dear Reader, are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.

The "eternal wanderer," Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

The “eternal wanderer,” Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

Get the first 13 chapters of The Love of Europa for Kindle right now… click here!
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“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water.

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city”
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city” ―Roman Payne, “The Wanderess”