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The Beaten Track is a major study of European tourism during the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century. James Buzard demonstrates the ways in which the distinction between tourist and traveller has developed and how the circulation of the two terms influenced how nineteenth and twentieth-century writers on Europe viewed themselves and presented themselves in writing. Drawing upon a wide range of texts from literature, travel writing, guidebooks, periodicals, and business histories, the book shows how a democratizing and institutionalizing tourism gave rise to new formulations about what constitutes 'authentic' cultural experience. Authentic culture was represented as being in the secret precincts of the 'beaten track' where it could be discovered only by the sensitive true traveller and not the vulgar tourist. Major writers such as Byron, Wordsworth, Frances Trollope, Dickens, Henry James, and Forster are examined in the light of the influential Murray and Baedeker guide books.
This elegantly written book draws links with debates in cultural studies concerning the ideology of leisure and concludes that in this period tourism became an exemplary cultural practice appearing to be both popularly accessible and exclusive.
Buzard is the coeditor of Critical Texts
(journal of literary/cultural criticism and theory)