The Literary Blog Hop is a fortnightly event held at The Blue Bookcase prompting book bloggers to answer a question.
What setting (time or place) from a book or story would you most like to visit? Eudora Welty said that, “Being shown how to locate, to place, any account is what does most toward making us believe it…,” so in what location would you most like to hang out?
This question is more difficult than it seems. I don’t like when local settings are described in too much details, but I like to feel the atmosphere of a place at a certain time.
I think that ideally, I would like to be in the place described in the book I am reading at the moment. I think it can enhance the reading experience. For instance, I thought it gave more atmosphere to The Cousin, by John Calabro, to read it when I was in Italy. However, I wonder if that might not also reduce to power of the imagination. Reading is about interpreting language and perhaps knowing too much about where it comes from might spoil that liberty we are given when reading. I suppose both reading experiences have their appeal.
Since I discovered Margaret Atwood’s works, I have wanted to visit Canada (even more than before). As you might have guessed by now I am passionate about her writing, but also about the life she led while growing up and the myth she embodies. Significantly, Atwood says that locations are at the origin of her writing. This might partly explain my growing desire to visit those places.
When I went to Canada last June, I was both visiting a real place, but also an imaginary world created through writing. Quite often, I associated these places to specific stories. My favourite experience was going to Ward’s Island in Toronto, which is one of the settings of “Isis in Darkness” (as well as The Robber Bride). As I was taking the ferry, the narrator was sitting next to me on his search for Selena. Like him, I went looking for her house. Which one could be Selena’s house? In the same story, the Bohemian Embassy is also mentioned and it is a place I would like to have seen. However, the story is set a few decades ago. I will never be able to experience the Toronto of the late 50s when Margaret Atwood did her first reading in the Bohemian Embassy. I can still imagine it though…
You can see my posts on my trip to Canada in the June 2010 archives. Quite often I have related the place to a piece of writing. I am still in the process of writing those posts and I am writing the one on Ward’s Island at the moment, but I have already posted the one on the Bohemian Embassy. I know it is taking me a long time to write that travel diary, but, at least, I get to visit the place a second time!