To go on holiday is quite enough for many people. Once you get to that mid-point in the year, having been working flat out for some months, it is more than enough to get away from it all and spend some time by a swimming pool. Others, however, will enjoy the chance to go and do something that they have not had the opportunity to do for some time. Cultural trips are something that can be considered a niche market – you either enjoy it or you do not. They are, however, growing more popular than ever, and holiday makers will look to the books on their shelves before the brochures at the travel agency when it comes to planning a holiday.
The world does not view literature as something that as borders. There are great writers from many countries, and their influences, muses and their childhood haunts are greatly varied. Whoever your favourite writer is, there is a tour to be made in their honour. Their original writings may not even have been in English – some of the finest writers in the world are only available through the wonders of translation. This makes it all the better to take a little literary tour in their honour – you can enjoy the wonders of another country while witnessing what influenced your heroes. If it so happens that your favourite writer grew up 25 kilometres away from where you live, then you can at least make a cheap day trip out of the experience.
For the Canadian bibliophile, it is possible to travel and see the old haunts of arguably Canada’s greatest living fiction author Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale among other books. A varied childhood took Margaret from her birthplace in Ottawa to the wilder areas of Northern Quebec and back again, before heading on to Sault Sainte Marie and Toronto, where she read English. She has taught in many universities in Canada and beyond as a professor of English. For any budding writer, to see the sights that sparked such creativity into life can surely never be a bad thing.
For those who wish to spread their wings a little more, there are options just beyond the borders of Canada – some people will invariably wish to follow in the footsteps of the great travelogue authors like Jack Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson. Others will be keen to see the sights that influenced the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, James Ellroy and Edgar Allen Poe, to whose work Baltimore has become an almost permanent monument.
Further south, in the Hispanic area of Central and South America there are many reminders of the great work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende and Carlos Fuentes. Elsewhere in the world there have been amazing writers in so many nations – Ireland has Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and WB Yeats, England has William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer and very many others. France and Spain have had wonders which need no introduction, and the Africa of Senghor and Fanon among others will capture the imagination of any lover of great literature.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to ahmeddawn.com site. This article originally published on the above website on June 26, 2009.