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How to: The Literary Pilgrimage

Filed under Adventure, general, Spotlights, Travel Tips
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Many travelers undertake religious pilgrimages – dusty hajis to Mecca and reverent strolls through the Vatican. I enjoy literary pilgrimages myself. I’ve paid respects to Thomas Hardy’s “Wessex,” Margaret Landon’s Siam, and Jonathan Swift’s Trinity College Dublin. Nothing whets my appetite for exploration like exotic literature; the original travel writing. Why not let a favorite story shape your next trip?

Some trip suggestions:

  • Go back to school: Anne of Green Gables (Prince Edward Island, Canada), The Catcher in the Rye (New York City), To Kill a Mockingbird (the deep American South), Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Germany), Oedipus Rex (Greece).
  • Stop letting fiction satisfy your historical passions and head to the scene of the crime. Love Le Morte d’Arthur? The castles of the British Isles await, my lord. Into the American Great Depression? Follow Steinbeck to California’s Central Valley. World War II buff? Make like Michener and dive into your own tales of the South Pacific.
  • Visit a favorite author’s stomping grounds. Tours are available of places like Edgar Allen Poe’s basement in Philadelphia, William Faulkner’s office in Mississippi, and Shakespeare’s birthplace in Warwickshire, England. Revel in the moveable feast of French scenery that inspired Ernest Hemingway.
  • Ditch your cultural comfort zone. Think novels like King Solomon’s Mines (Africa), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Colombia), A Passage to India, and The Joy Luck Club (China).

Once you’ve picked your destination, get psyched by rereading the tale. Thumb the pages on the plane or reread the story in the actual locale itself, when you can literally see the images coming alive.

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