A disappointing mental_floss article

Literary Pilgrimages

I am actually a little bit disappointed in this list. There’s not a lot on there that is new to me. I didn’t know about Trilby, Florida, or Barnhill, but the others are either familiar or obvious. The other disappointment is purely personal – I really don’t care about Faulkner or Da Vinci Code tours or Anne Rice (and are there really no other literary connections to New Orleans? Somehow I doubt that. Wasn’t The Awakening set in New Orleans or at least southern Louisiana?). I was hoping for something on the list that I would see and go, “Oh, that would be so cool to go to!” Instead I went, “Done it; have wanted to go for years; done some of it; don’t care; eh, maybe someday; don’t care; how does this even count; don’t care; don’t care; eh, I suppose; done it; eh, I suppose; huh, interesting.”

I was also disappointed in the inconsistency of the list. Some of the items on the list were tours, some were locations, some had events….there was no consistency with the definition of ‘literary pilgrimage’. Barnhill isn’t described as even acknowledging the Orwell connection – it’s just “Go here! Orwell lived here once!”

The omissions of the list are also a bit disappointing. No Lake District, with its Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Beatrix Potter connections, to name a few? No Newstead Abbey or Eastwood [D.H. Lawrence’s hometown], she asks in a burst of regional pride? No Lincoln (home of Tennyson)? Oxford, but no mention of London with its walking tours of literary highlights [we did the Bloomsbury tour one year – FANTASTIC]? No Canterbury, one of the most famous pilgrimage locations in the English-speaking world since the thirteenth century? No Edinburgh (home of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns and Ian Rankin, among others)? Stratford-upon-Avon? Hannibal, MO? Dublin? The very first comment, with DeSmet, SD, home of Laura Ingalls Wilder (in fact, any of the Laura sites – they’ve all got at least SOMETHING up about her)? And those are just in the UK, Ireland, and the US – other countries don’t have literary pilgrimage sites?

I expect more from mental_floss. In the time I’ve been reading, I’ve gotten to really enjoy their list entries – I usually find them not just entertaining but informative. Maybe that’s just because they’ve usually been on topics that I don’t know that much about – unlike this one. One of the reason that I think this particular post is so disappointing is that it makes me question the quality of the other lists that I have read and will read.

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