Gentlemen's Europe: Nineteenth-Century Handbooks for Travellers (1). - Annali d'Italianistica

Gentlemen's Europe: Nineteenth-Century Handbooks for Travellers (1).

By Annali d'Italianistica

  • Release Date - Published: 2003-01-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Annali d'Italianistica
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Gentlemen's Europe: Nineteenth-Century Handbooks for Travellers (1). Annali d'Italianistica read online review & book description:

The Premises. It has been assumed that the whole set of John Murray's Handbook for Travellers for regions and countries of Europe and the Mediterranean published between 1836 and about 1900 (2) (along with analogous series by other authors) is a valuable, yet hardly explored, historical tool. These handbooks offer good information about the countries described, with deep insights about the opinions, preferences, expectations, and value systems of their users. Unlike most earlier travel reports, often of great intellectual and literary value, the new generation of guidebooks offered systematic information on the real conditions of travel and accommodation, on the formalities on the frontiers, and gave true, i.e., reliable practical information about the countries. The nineteenth-century guidebooks inherited traditional descriptions of countries, but adapted them to new demands; instead of colourful political or philosophical comments and stereotypes they brought rather matter-of-fact information. The nineteenth-century publishers had intellectual aspirations but were businessmen, too. They knew the market and wanted their products to answer what the public demand. Can we assume that what we read in the guidebooks somehow reflected the interest and sensitivity of their users? did it reflect the countries described? 'Real', 'true', 'reliable' are key terms but always relative. The authors and editors did their utmost to serve the particular interests of their readers and what they produced probably reflected rather closely the expectation of the market, in this particular case the opinion and interest of the English tourist. The tremendous success of John Murray Publishers and of their major competitors from abroad (chiefly Karl Baedeker) was a cultural phenomenon that cannot be disregarded.

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