Tag Archives: Murray’s

“You are not, not, not to look at your Baedeker” – Travel and Guidebooks

The post below was written for a “Social Media and Analytics” class, taught by Leila Samii (@reallyleila), that I took in the fall of 2014, but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

If you’ve read E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, you may remember how despondent Lucy Honeychurch was upon entering a church without her trusty Baedeker (a guidebook), because without it, she could not “tell […] which, of all the sepulchral slabs that paved the nave and transepts, was the one that was really beautiful.”

As Nicholas T. Parsons explains in Worth the Detour: A History of the Guidebook, Forster’s “irony is directed at [the guidebooks] misuse as a surrogate for thought and a dampener of spontaneity.”

Lucy loosened up quite a bit over the course of the story, but the question remains: Should we travel with a guidebook, real or virtual , or just wander around, letting our eyes and chance guide us?

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