Readers are invited to tell us: a) where the action is taking place, and b) who is the author?
Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30 worth of book tokens to the first correct answer extracted from the hat. Answers on a postcard, please, to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.
Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once - somewhere - far away - in another existence perhaps.
There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence.
And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect. I got used to it afterwards; I did not see it any more; I had no time.
Literally Lost 53: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.
The scene was in London. The winner is Bill Fordham, Surrey.