I Have Seen the World Begin
Travels through China, Cambodia, and Vietnam
Publication Date: March 2002
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When Carsten Jensen set out by train from Denmark on a journey to the East, he expected to find lands of rich history and culture, and people
undergoing radical change at the end of the twentieth century. In this
illuminating narrative of his travels, there is this and much, much more.
Fusing social commentary and history with vibrant descriptions of people and places, Jensen brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of these venerable civilizations. He examines the reverberations of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, always attuned to the restless air of expectancy in the country, but also finds time for remote concerts of ancient Chinese music. He renders the pervasive sense of destruction, despair, and loss in Cambodia with particular sensitivity, wondering at the specter of death that still hovers over the landscape. And it is in Vietnam, with its palpable
legacy of colonialism and war, that Jensen ultimately loses himself in an extraordinary love affair.
At once compelling and richly informative, I Have Seen the World Begin is an incredible journey.
As a boy in Marstal, Denmark, CARSTEN JENSEN sailed on his father’s boat, a 220-ton freighter named the Abelone. In 2000, he returned to Marstal to write We, the Drowned. He has also worked as a literary critic and a journalist, reporting from China, Cambodia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Afghanistan.
We, the Drowned won Denmark’s most important literary prize, while also being selected by readers of a major daily newspaper as the best Danish novel of the last twenty-five years. It was a bestseller throughout Scandinavia and in Germany, and has also been published in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France.
PRAISE FOR I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD BEGIN
"In the tradition of Bruce Chatwin, social commentary and global history are fused with elegant and evocative descriptions of countryside and people. . . . Here is a writer about whom we should be hearing much more."--The Independent (London)