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  • Kristine Kelly (a1)

In the preface to publisher John Murray's 1858 two-volume Handbook for Travellers in Syria and Palestine, one of the first guidebooks specifically for British tourists to the Holy Land, author J. L. Porter claims that his objective is not just to provide a geographical summary or to outline travelers’ routes, but, more importantly, to link his descriptions with the “sacred dramas” of the Bible so that the tourist “may see with his ‘mind's eye’ each scene played over and over again” (xi). In such a spirit, this Murray guidebook tells both the well-known stories of the Bible and the more mundane particulars of finding interesting places and dealing with local middle-eastern people. The Handbook weaves together traditions of pilgrimage, the journey to a spiritual center, with tourism. In other words, it seeks to balance the pilgrim's desire for divine revelation with the tourist's interest in physical comfort and gentle visual stimulation. It incongruously pairs a conviction of the value of Christian self-sacrifice and hardship with a desire for bourgeois leisure. With a sly humility, Porter notes in his Preface: “The Bible is the best Handbook for Palestine; the present work is only intended to be a companion to it” (xi). As second to the Bible, this travel guide aspired to bring the English traveler's spiritual journey to the Holy Land into harmony with the secular pleasure of sightseeing.

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Glenda Abramson . “Two Nineteenth-Century Travellers to the Holy Land.” Israel Affairs 8.3 (Spring 2002): 6983. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Sept. 2010.

James Buzard . The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to ‘Culture,’ 1800–1918. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1993.

Simon Coleman . “From the Sublime to the Meticulous: Art, Anthropology and Victorian Pilgrimage to Palestine.” History and Anthropology 13.4 (2002): 275–90. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 March 2010.

Simon Coleman . “A Tale of Two Centres? Representing Palestine to the British in the Nineteenth Century.Mobilities 2.3 (Nov. 2007): 331–45. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 March 2010.

Peter Hulme , and Tim Youngs , eds. The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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