Read All About It: Literary Locations

Written by  Lucinda Day

There's a lot to be said for flouncing around town like your favourite protagonist. While most people seem to strut about on a daily basis with their headphones on, imagining that they're in some kind of music video, literary daydreams can be just as exciting. Not only are you likely to find yourself in an interesting place, in my case this was Central Park NYC, but you'll also have fun envisaging yourself as a character that is interesting enough to be worthy of page space; luckily for me this was the moody, angry, damaged teenage super protagonist, Holden Caulfield, in D.J Salinger's classic Catcher in the Rye.

While I must admit that I didn't visit New York City in order to recreate Catcher in the Rye, it is true to say that wandering through Central Park reignited the same spark I felt reading the book. Visiting literary locations will almost certainly bring to life a landscape you sucked in off the book's pages, or, more interestingly, some feeling that you experienced when reading. Whether this enhances your love for a book or not it is likely to develop your understanding, or obsession.

Aside from any great quest for revelation and meaning, there is some greater feeling to be unleashed when you visit a literary location: satisfaction. Swarm with the masses the streets of Prague, and in depth details of the 1968 Czech revolution will come crashing back to you, even though you could have sworn that you skipped all those historical bits and merely focussed on the romance in Milan Kundera's novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Visit Sri Lanka and prepare to be amazed by the wealth of knowledge about political tensions that you must have acquired after a sitting with Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy, because it's all effortlessly floating back now. Fiction may not be real, but it is a special place where we can find interpretations of our world and our heritage. Nothing quite beats engrossing yourself in a fiction that is set in a place that you're planning to travel to, and for some reason you're much more likely to remember the important factual stuff when it is hidden in what you thought was a love story, than if you read it from some standard guide book.

Not many people can afford to spend the money to trot off to India because they love Salman Rushdie, but if you're into books then of course some of the greatest places are right on your doorstep. The United Kingdom, as the birthplace of great literature spills over with old country houses, meadows, coastal places, and street corners that are significant literary locations for one reason or another. Indeed, the sign 'Welcome to ………. (insert famous author here, in my case this is Jane Austen) Country,' as you're driving across county boarders is there for a reason; you just need to look.

Every trip to a literary location may well have its downside, the niggling feeling at the pit of your stomach that you're not quite ready to admit to yourself or those around you: 'it's not like it was in the book…' Yet even if this may be the case, then fear not, for the best part about visiting literary locations may well be nothing to do with the book itself. If you're making that special voyage to Dracula's Castle, your own adventures and experiences while travelling are quite likely to match up to those that you've read (and if they don't well at least they're real). This may not always be the case though, so ensure that you pack a good book.

Top Literary Locations to visit

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