Literary Europe

Destinations

Eagle and Child, Oxford
- England
Jo Cahill

Eagle and Child, Oxford, UK

Established as a public house in 1650, The Eagle and Child in Oxford has a history as long as any, and even before that it played its part in the Civil War – as a playhouse for the Royalist soldiers who were stationed in the city between 1642 and 1649. This is not the pub’s only link to the literary world, however, as with close proximity to Oxford University, there have been many titans of literature pass through its doors.

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Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London
- England
Jo Cahill

Charles Dickens Museum, London, UK

The Charles Dickens Museum is a Georgian terrace house in the heart of Camden, rescued from demolition in 1923 by a group of Dickens fans who, in 1902, had formed the Dickens Fellowship. Two years later, it was opened as a museum dedicated to the author’s life and works and, but for a brief closure for some significant restoration work in 2012, has remained that way ever since.

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James Joyce statue, Dublin
Europe
Jo Cahill

James Joyce statue, Dublin, Ireland

Widely acclaimed as Ireland’s most famous author, James Joyce is immortalised in brass, in a life-sized statue on North Earl Street, adjacent to the O’Connell Street GPO. Although he spent much of his life abroad, Joyce wrote prolifically about his home country, and particularly the city of his birth. Both his short story collection, Dubliners, and his seminal work, Ulysses, are set in Dublin, making its heart an ideal setting for him to be honoured.

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Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland
Europe
Jo Cahill

Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland

Few countries are quite as well known for their literary tradition as Ireland, with internationally renowned poets, playwrights, novelists, essayists and writers of all persuasions calling the country home. Indeed, no less than four Nobel Prize winners hail from the Emerald Isle and all have connections to the capital, Dublin. As such, the Dublin Literary Museum has a range of illustrious characters to feature in their displays, and they use that to their advantage.

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Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
Czech Republic
Jo Cahill

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Widely considered to be among the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Strahov Monastery in Prague actually boasts two exquisite rooms full of books. Originally built in 1140, the monastery became home to the Premonstratensians (an order of monks related to the Jesuits) in 1143 and from there the library and nearby basilica began to develop. Destroyed by fire, sacked by attacking Hussites and decayed by the ravages of time, the Strahov Monastery has been rebuilt and revitalised many times over, each time with architectural and artistic advances to enhance its beauty.

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Tihuta Pass, Romania
Europe
Jo Cahill

Tihuta Pass, Romania

Although Irish writer, Bram Stoker, never set foot in Romania, let alone Transylvania, his Gothic horror novel, Dracula, has had a lasting impact on the region. Some suggest that Stoker decided on the Tihuta Pass (known in the novel as the Borgo Pass) as the setting for Dracula, just by looking at a map of the region and picking a road. From the description in the text, however, there is no doubt that Tihuta Pass was where he intended.

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Book Reviews

A Change of Time - Ida Jessen
Denmark
Jo Cahill

Review: A Change of Time – Ida Jessen

Set primarily in a small Danish parish called Thyregod, in the late 1920s, Ida Jessen’s A Change of Time (Archipelago Books, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken) contains the diary entries of Fru Bagge in the final days of her husband’s life, and the months that follow. Vigand Bagge was the region’s physician, and a seemingly very efficient and effective one, at that. It is also apparent, however, that there was more – or perhaps less – to the marriage than meets the eye.

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Good Will Come From The Sea - Christos Ikonomou
Europe
Jo Cahill

Review: Good Will Come From The Sea – Christos Ikonomou

A collection of four loosely-connected stories, Christos Ikonomou’s Good Will Come From the Sea (Archipelago Books, translated by Karen Emmerich) explores life on an un-named Greek island, following the imposition of austerity measures associated with the eurozone bailout. In a country where poverty affects almost everyone, internal divisions are bound to appear, and these fractured relationships are prominent in the book.

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Europe
Jo Cahill

Review: In Your Hands – Inês Pedrosa

A story of love and loss, and the ways that we try to protect ourselves, In Your Hands (AmazonCrossing, written by Inês Pedrosa, translated from Portuguese by Andrea Rosenberg) tells the stories of three generations of Portuguese women navigating their way through life in the 20th Century. Jenny, whose society wedding in 1935 opens the book, appears to live a picture-perfect life, but the diaries she writes for her adopted daughter, Camila, and Camila’s daughter, Natália, betray a loneliness and hurt that has been suppressed for years.

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This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza
Asia
Jo Cahill

Review: This Life or the Next – Demian Vitanza

This Life or the Next (AmazonCrossing, written by Demian Vitanza, translated from Norwegian by Tanya Thresher) is the fictionalised story of “Tariq Khan”, a Norwegian Pakistani man who travelled to Syria to undertake jihad. Based on more than 100 hours of discussion with a foreign fighter who returned to Norway and was imprisoned for his involvement with terrorist organisations, both the subject of the book and the author altered details to create a fictional work that nevertheless tells something of a true story.

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Something Great and Beautiful, by Enrico Pellegrini
Europe
Jo Cahill

Review: Something Great and Beautiful – Enrico Pellegrini

There’s something romantic about summers in Italy and forays into the unknown of India that just doesn’t exist on Wall Street. When Chloé Verdi and Rosso Fiorentino, the protagonists of Enrico Pellegrini’s Something Great and Beautiful (Other Press), meet in India, the encounter is something exotic and tinged with the surreal. Juxtapose that with Chloé’s testimony in Rosso’s trial for securities fraud and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an engrossing page-turner that’s too delightful to put down.

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Articles

Hans Christian Andersen House, Odense
Jo Cahill

Seven travel bloggers’ best literary travel stories

There are thousands of literary travel destinations all around the world. Visiting them can enhance your understanding of an author’s work – not to mention blow out your travel budget and to be read list on new books! – but not all of them are equally worth your time and hard-earned cash. So how do you know which places you should add to your bucket list, and which are best visited in your imagination? In this post, seven travel bloggers have taken the time to tell you about their experiences with some of the world’s best literary destinations.

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Eagle and Child, Oxford
Jo Cahill

Eagle and Child, Oxford, UK

Established as a public house in 1650, The Eagle and Child in Oxford has a history as long as any, and even before that it played its part in the Civil War – as a playhouse for the Royalist soldiers who were stationed in the city between 1642 and 1649. This is not the pub’s only link to the literary world, however, as with close proximity to Oxford University, there have been many titans of literature pass through its doors.

Read More »
Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London
Jo Cahill

Charles Dickens Museum, London, UK

The Charles Dickens Museum is a Georgian terrace house in the heart of Camden, rescued from demolition in 1923 by a group of Dickens fans who, in 1902, had formed the Dickens Fellowship. Two years later, it was opened as a museum dedicated to the author’s life and works and, but for a brief closure for some significant restoration work in 2012, has remained that way ever since.

Read More »