If you’re anything like me then you might think to yourself, “There are so many things to do and places in the world to see, how will I ever get around to it all?” Luckily for us, we have books to help ease our wallets and escape to new places without the pressure of leaving our responsibilities behind.
Of course, in an effort to help us escape our droll lives, I find that it simultaneously makes me eager to visit these far-off lands. The map I’ve marked, mentally, is filled with different literary pins of locations I dream of seeing one day. Here are my top five literary dream destinations.
I am a huge fan of French literature in particular, and one of my all-time favorite novels is the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris (more commonly known to English-speaking readers as The Hunchback of Notre Dame). I dream of one day approaching that beautiful and ancient cathedral, caressing its stonework with my unworthy hand, and hearing Hugo’s prose ring through my head as I say a silent “thank you” to one of my literary heroes. On top of my own personal love for Victor Hugo and for Hunchback, I also want to visit the city where so many Modernist writers took refuge away from their native lands.
As a Shakespeare enthusiast, there is nothing I would enjoy more than having the opportunity to tour the country where countless of his plays were set. Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, have all found homes within the Italian landscape. Although I would be eager to tour the entire peninsula, if I had to pick one location based upon one of Shakespeare’s plays, I would have to go with Rome because of how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julius Caesar, as well as being incredibly fascinated by Roman history. To see the ruins of a world that was already ancient when Shakespeare was writing would be to stand in the glory of what humans are capable of accomplishing.
I could very well be one of the few people alive that will genuinely tell you that I love James Joyce. I loved Dubliners, I loved Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and I even loved Ulysses. Joyce left Dublin when he was still a young man, and he spent the rest of his life touring Europe before settling in Paris as an ex-patriate of Ireland. Dublin was still his home, however, and all of his literature is set in the city regardless of how long it might have been since he had last inhabited it. Today, Dublin pays massive tribute to Joyce, and I wish for the chance to walk the streets and see the sites that he so vividly recalled in Ulysses.
As someone who delights in horror and Halloween, I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to Salem, Massachusetts. On top of being a haven of history, it’s also been the setting for so many books, movies, and plays. One of the first stories that comes to mind is Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. The story itself is an allegory for the American fascination with catching Communists during the 50s, but uses the Salem Witch Trial to exemplify this point. Aside from actual literature, though, is the simple fact that so many stories concerning these witch trials and the horrible ways witches were…dealt with have been passed down, orally, through the years. I imagine visiting the New England town during a crisp autumn weekend in October, right before all of the leaves have changed and fallen to the ground.
I must say that I am a humongous fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and have always envisioned visiting the place that he called “home” for a large portion of his life. Oxford is the place where he wrote The Lord of the Rings, and it’s also the place where he eventually died. Although Tolkien was actually born in South Africa, he was raised and lived his entire life in England. The small cottage he inhabited is apparently marked by a simple plaque, but regardless, 20 Northmoor Road is a location that I would be more than honored to visit. In addition to his famous trilogy and The Hobbit, Tolkien also translated various early Anglo-Saxon texts such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and his translations rank amongst my favorites.
Perhaps one day I will stop spending all of my money on books and food, and actually have the opportunity to save up and visit all of these places rather than simply read about them!
Feature Image Via Amazon