Travel books and books for travel


My alterego Jane Lockwood blogged yesterday about a travel book she enjoyed recently, Sultry Climates: Travel and Sex by Ian Littlewood. It was a refreshing contrast to another book about travel, excerpts from The Countries of Europe Described, written by Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer in 1849. She was also the author of what has been described as “one of the most outspokenly sadistic children’s books ever written,” The Peep of Day.

Edited by Todd Pruzan, and titled The Clumsiest People in Europe: Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World, this book has the attraction of a multi-car pile up. You keep reading in horrified fascination as Mrs. Mortimer can’t find one nice thing to say about anyone. Abroad is populated entirely by dirty, shiftless, lazy, useless foreigners, most of whom are Catholics (which explains a lot). A town may look pretty as you approach it by sea, but when you get there it has mean narrow dirty streets, and so on. It’s funny but at the same time it makes you cringe.

Mrs. Mortimer went abroad twice in her life–once, in fact, when she was a teenager in the late Regency to France (where they like being smart but are not very clean) and Belgium (not much to say because it is so like the countries on either side)–and that was obviously enough. After that she read widely.

Talking of which, I’m about to leave soon for the airport for my very short trip to England to visit my aged father who is not a tree–and I’m taking two books, Pamela by Richardson and my buddy Esri Rose’s Bound To Love Her, a funny book about elves in Boulder–fairly typical for my travel reading, a weighty tome and something fun. I’ll report back on all.

Update: arrived safely, gawd I’m jetlagged.

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