On the Trail of English Travellers, 1602-1941
Romania Revisited: “a valuable, highly recommended contribution to the study of the perception of Romania by English outsiders down through the centuries, and at the same time does value, much-appreciated service for visitors to Romania today.” – The Midwest Book Review
Romania Revisited is the definitive story of the journeys made by English travelers to Romania between 1602 and 1941. The author, Alan Ogden, interweaves the impressions of previous generations into the witty account of his own journeys made in the summer and winter of 1998. Although the chapters are arranged to follow his own route, the author successfully integrates earlier writers into his narrative by linking them to towns and places. Starting with the Transylvanian adventures of Captain John Smith in 1602, the bibliography is the most detailed inventory yet published of English travel writing on Romania. Ogden, with his unerring sense of human nature, has selected those passages which throw light on the attitudes of earlier travelers and highlight some of their more amusing antics. He entertainingly arranges his sources into ‘The Gentlemen’ and ‘The Ladies’ and includes them in a useful general English-language bibliography.
Both for those familiar with this subject and for the first time reader, the classification of writers is most helpful: The ‘passers through’ en route to and from Moscow, India, or Constantinople, like Lady Craven who was on an extended holiday in the 1780s after being divorced by her husband; the ‘adventurers,’ like the swashbuckling Hungarian mercenary Captain John Smith, later of Pocahontas fame; the ‘first tourists’ — James Skene, Andrew Crosse, James Samuelson among them — and his personal favorite, the intrepid Mrs. Walker: first, from the 1890s, Ogden identifies the interest in Princess Marie at the court, who went on to become queen and played a leading role in the First World War; then, with the advent of the motorcar and aeroplane, came ‘the motorists,’ the most famous of which was Sacherverell Sitwell; he reserves a special category for the ‘Romantics’ like Patrick Leigh Fermor and Walter Starkie.
The author’s own journey is a comprehensive and perspicacious review of today’s Romania. Ogden focuses on the heritage and art of the country while providing a delightful account of his own experiences en route. The book is illustrated with the author’s own photographs, based on the work of Karl Hielscher in 1933, and with helpful maps also drawn by the author. Romania Revisited makes a valuable contribution to the study of the external perception of Romania over the centuries and, at the same time, is the perfect travel companion for today’s visitor.
Imprint: Center for Romanian Studies
242 pp., plus 56 black & white plates, 6 x 9 in. (229 x 152 mm), Illustrated, Bibliography, Index
Date of Publication: January, 2000
Date of Publication: September 21, 2021