Monday, May 16, 2016

Baedeker's Egypt

Baedeker's Egypt (1898, Fourth Remodelled Edition) direct link
Open Library main page

The Baedeker travel guides were so famous and influential that the name still exists as a reference though the guides themselves slowly declined during the 20th century and finally stopped around the Second World War.  Hundreds have been digitized but this was the first I encountered and its subject seems more novel than, say, London.

The first thing I noticed is that the guide is so incredibly detailed.  Directions, tips, etiquette and some background are to be expected but has distances (to the half mile and for buildings in feet), addresses, discounts on exchange rates, times, thorough itineraries and a phenomenal amount of background information.  I glanced at the current Lonely Planet guide to Egypt and though they're clearly still more or less the same thing the assumptions are quite different, the often-remarked differences between travelers and tourists (and I don't think it's really a 19th to 21st century difference).

In any case, this is fascinating browsing and a great source for historians and novelists (despite the academic study of travel literature I can't find much on guide books though I'm positive it exists).