From the archive: down the Yangtze with Paul Theroux, 1982

Despite the big filthy cities alongside it, the travel writer finds the river largely unchanged over hundreds of years

The Observer Magazine’s first issue of 1982 included Paul Theroux’s 1,500-mile journey downriver from Chongqing to Shanghai on the Yangtze (‘The great Observer holiday package’).

‘Every mile of it was different,’ he wrote, ‘but there were 2,000 miles I did not see. It crosses 12 provinces or regions, 700 rivers are joined to it – all Yangtze statistics are hopelessly huge and ungraspable; they obscure rather than clarify.’

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