A Year in Books/Day 90: The Victorian Visitors

  • Title: The Victorian Visitors Culture Shock in Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Author: Rupert Christiansen
  • Year Published: 2000 (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • Year Purchased: 2001-2002
  • Source: History Book Club (I think)
  • About: It is exactly what it says it is, with each chapter devoted to the experiences and impressions of a noted foreign tourist (from Emerson to Wagner). I especially love the parts dedicated to Australian cricketers and Yankee Spirit-Rappers!
  • Motivation: I’m quite the Victorian-era connoisseur. I also love the strange niche that is the Victorian travelogue. This is a wondrous combination of both of those things, with a dash each of literary and cultural history added to the mix. Plus, it’s well-written and funny, the latter being an especial quality in this type of book.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 158: “But (Daniel) Home had departed before the spirits had reached the villas of Holloway and he passed over to the other side with his glamour unsullied by low associations. Today, he remains secure in his reputation as the supreme exponent of his art: it is his bust which presides over the library of the Society of Psychical Research in Kensington, defying the ghost-hunters’ theories and explanations as bafflingly as he did a hundred and fifty years ago. Spiritualism’s history would look completely different without him. His visit-his visitation-was without doubt the most consequential of any in this book.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10+++

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