Literary Pilgrimages

  1. What I remember: buying a ticket to Hebden Bridge on the train, certain that the conductor would judge me as another American Plath girl if I asked for Heptonstall. The tough climb uphill to the churchyard. The sweeping view across the moors on that bright summer’s day.

  2. This actor is playing a very specific version of Mr. Darcy. He is not, especially, Austen’s Darcy, who is famously awkward and impolite. The Jane Austen Centre’s Darcy is the Darcy from really bad fanfiction.

  3. The Toast's literary pilgrimages archive can be found here. When you live across the ocean from where your favourite stories are set, Europe can seem nearly as imaginary as Middle Earth. London and Paris are real, but in my mind they exist as an amalgam of stories. Pure text doesn’t provide the sensory cues of visual media, so it demands that readers participate in creating the world of the story. It’s an intimate act of collaboration, a…

  4. The Toast's previous literary pilgrimages can be found here. Not too long ago, I found myself on a dusty bus rumbling through French Catalonia, trailing a dead man called Patrick O’Brian. I would find him in a tiny fishing village called Collioure. “It would have been easy to miss Collioure altogether,” he once wrote, “but I did not.” O’Brian might have liked it if everyone else missed Collioure altogether, myself included. He was a notorious misanthrope.

  5. Previously by Elyse Martin: How To Tell If You Are In A Victor Hugo Novel. The Toast's previous literary pilgrimages can be found here. As much as I love Victor Hugo’s turns of phrase, as amused as I am by his excesses, and as indebted as I am to him for teaching me how to think about social justice issues, I have to admit he had some mistaken notions. One of them being that he was…

  6. Oh, how I loved Edith Wharton. We were like two peas in a pod. True, she grew up stifled by the conventions of Old New York at the turn of the century, and I grew up on an Adirondack commune during the Age of Aquarius. But we both felt such claustrophobia, her in the drawing room, me with the hippies and the trees.

  7. Say you're me. (Sorry for the frizzy hair and insomnia.) You wrote your college thesis on anti-Semitism and male menstruation in James Joyce's Ulysses. Not only would you be the coolest cat in Cooltown; you'd also be the perfect fit for Bloomsday, Dublin's annual James Joyce extravaganza.

  8. The Toast’s previous literary pilgrimages can be found here.

    Growing up in the heart of New York City, I hardly believed places like Nebraska and Kansas were real; they sounded as foreign to me as Madagascar and Timbuktu. I took my first cross-country drive at age 19 and was immediately and irreversibly enchanted by the cows and cornfields, enormous sky and straight, hypnotic highways of America's heartland. 

  9. The Toast's previous literary pilgrimages can be found here. As soon as I say the word “Concord” to the woman selling rail tickets, I’m terrified that she knows everything about me. After all, if you don’t have a car of your own, you have to actually tell someone you want to go to Concord before you can get there. With a population of only 17,000, it’s not a destination for anyone to visit casually.

  10. The Toast's last literary pilgrimage was to Haworth, home of Wuthering Heights. There’s a line in one of my favorite fantasy novels, Pamela Dean’s The Whim of the Dragon, which I think about all the time. Ted, one of the main characters, is contemplating the Secret Country, the fantasy land that he and his sister and cousins have found themselves in – which they may or may not have made up – and…

  11. You can see Top Withins from a mile away. At first, it is nothing but a dark blip on the horizon. But as you walk towards it, the place looms ahead, standing alone at the top of a hill. According to local legend the abandoned farmhouse was the spot Emily Brontë envisioned as the place where the Earnshaw family lived in Wuthering Heights. Though, as a bronze plaque affixed to the side explains almost…