My aim on TraveLit is to introduce readers who share my love of travel literature to good books they may not know about. Mostly classics, some new, the books cover travel in its many forms, from exploration to tourism. Along with reviews, TraveLit also brings together provocative, entertaining travel quotations and reader recommendations. I welcome comments on the readings, the reviews, the quotations, or the fascinating enterprise of travel itself.

TraveLit--A blog about travel literature

Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Book Review: The Path to Rome

January 31, 2016

The Path to Rome
By Hilaire Belloc. Various editions and Project Gutenberg.

First published in 1902 and continuously in print ever since, Hilaire Belloc’s The Path to Rome chronicles his journey from his birthplace near Toul in France to Rome, “the centre of the world.” An ardent Catholic, Belloc is decidedly on a pilgrimage. But, a canny writer as well—one of the most prolific writers of his era—he has also crafted a secular tale of adventure.

Like any good pilgrim, Belloc starts off with vows: “I will walk all the way and take advantage of no wheeled thing,” he writes. “I will sleep rough and cover thirty miles a day, and I will hear Mass every morning; and I will be present at high Mass in St. Peter’s on the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.” He is also determined to walk by night and sleep by day, when it will be too hot to hike, and to travel in a straight line.

One of the humorous threads running through the book is how, one by one, he breaks each of these vows (more…)

Travel Quotation

January 24, 2016

I wish I Married a Travel Junkie, by Samuel Jay Keyser--a travel-averse spouse married to an intrepid traveler--had been better written and edited, but in view of my own experience in New Guinea, I definitely responded to this observation:

"The average traveler when asked why he or she travels almost always responds with something like, "I want to experience someone else's culture. That's a red herring. How can you experience someone else's culture from an air-conditioned bus going 20 miles an hour through the streets of Pusan? All right. Get off the bus and walk through the fish market. You haven't experienced someone else's culture. All you've experienced is a lot of fish for sale. Most anthropologists spend years trying to get inside someone else's culture. Many of them come back home to a nervous breakdown for their efforts. Culture hopping isn't easy."

Selected Works

Travel Memoir
"Loved this book, which appears to be but is more than an account of an anthropological expedition, more than a travel book, more than a memoir."--Barbara Beckwith, author of What Was I Thinking?: Digging Deeper into Everyday Racism,
"It is undoubtedly the best written account of, and reflection on, fieldwork I have read, and --perhaps -- the best book on fieldwork (period) I have come across. --Joel Savishinsky, Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus), Ithaca College, author of Trail of the Hare.
“An impressively insightful, deftly written, accessibly articulate, expertly knowledgeable, and decidedly analytical survey of…book reviewing today.”
Midwest Book Review
“Captivating stories in an anthology of epistolary fiction from the last 50 years.”

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