This delightful account of a journey round Scotland with the artist Lepel as companion, from Edinburgh to Inverness and back via the West Coast and Western Isles, reads as freshly today as when it was first published. Fontane wrote it before becoming a celebrated novelist. From his years of working in Britain as a journalist he had developed a deep love of English and Scottish history and culture, of Shakespeare, Walter Scott and Scottish ballads (which he translated, going on to write his own), and this book is a product of those years.
Fontane has a born gift for painting landscape, townscape and their inhabitants in a few words and buttonholing the reader with a local or historical story. At the same time he shows keen political and social awareness – of the stirrings of Scottish nationalism, the beginnings of the tourist industry – and is critical of the romantic folklore version of Scottish history, pointing firmly to Scotland’s important scientific and intellectual achievements.
Fontane’s fondly but shrewdly observed, lightly knowledgeable portrait of Scotland when it was opening up to the wider world is not only a fascinating travel document but retains all its original qualities as a thoroughly entertaining and inspiring guide for today’s traveller. This translation, first published by Dent & Sons in 1965 and reissued by Libris in 1998, is now distributed by Angel Classics.
‘Fontane’s amiably written account of Scotland’s most famous sights, richly stocked with anecdotal details, offers us a fascinating view of the country through foreign eyes at a time when the tourist industry with its attendant mythology was just beginning to take off.’ – Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday