Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

An Original Grand Tour, published 1726.

This beautiful text, by Joseph Addison, describes the sights, cultures, landscapes, politics, technologies and antiquities encountered by the young English author as he travelled across Italy from 1701-3. At that time, Italy was a group of independent city-states or tiny nations, and transportation was very rugged and arduous. It is littered with quotes in Latin, translated to English, and peppered with quaint anachronisms in word selection and f's for s's. Early tourists would frequently write and publish accounts of their trips abroad, as there was a substantial market for these texts which carried through well into the early twentieth century.

(The 19th century in particular has left bibliophiles with a wealth of travel literature. The proliferation of these publications provided a considerable component of research for my Honours thesis last year).

This particular book holds a very special coincidence for me. It is dedicated to John Lord Somers, Baron of Eversham. A much later successor of this English aristocrat founded a youth leadership camp in 1929, Lord Somer's Camp, based at Somers in Victoria, south east of Melbourne. The last three generations of my family have been pertinently involved in this camp and the associated sporting clubs of Powerhouse, so this is a meaningful link.

It was dedicated to this patron as he was almost certainly the principal sponsor not only of the text's publishing, but of the Grand Tour itself.

Centuries ago, this book was once the classic summary of a most important stage in the lives of many thousands of young, educated men. Now, almost three hundred years later, the same type of journey is being recorded, and transcribed to be read by those who matter most to the traveller. The technology has changed but the narrative remains intact.

In addition to this blog, I shall be recording my travels in a handwritten journal, and private emails to individuals who write to me or leave comments on this blog. (Note that if you comment anonymously, I won't be able to respond to your questions!)


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