I’m commencing my pilgrimage to Yosemite tomorrow (4:30 am), but I’m taking along a book about another literary shrine, Walden: A History. Thoreau scholar Barksdale Maynard, I trust, will give me needed perspective, through a place I’ve visited over the years, into how a revered landscape can be threatened by its devotees. Plus, reading about the comings-and-goings of 19th century Concord for me is like reading People magazine gossip for normal people.
Someday, I hope to make a pilgrimage to Jane Austen-land, and I’m thinking of her books today too, specifically for a Pride and Prejudice moment of pre-trip euphoria. I hope that each of you has a vacation this summer that you can anticipate as joyfully as Elizabeth Bennet does a proposed “tour of pleasure” with her aunt and uncle.
We have not determined how far it shall carry us,” said Mrs. Gardiner, “but, perhaps, to the Lakes.”
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “Oh, my dear, dear aunt,” she rapturously cried, “what delight! What felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to the disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travelers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We will know where we have gone—we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarreling about its relative situation. Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of generality of travelers.”
I wonder what books Lizzie took along on her outing? Whatever you choose, happy reading!