Travellers in Switzerland, by G. R. de Beer, xviii + 584 pages, with 23 full-page illustrations. Oxford University Press, 1949. Price, $8.00.
This is a biographical encyclopaedia of travellers in Switzerland from Willa of Ivrea, who crossed the San Bernardino Pass in 941, down to Arnold Lunn, who in 1945 journeyed again through the Valais and Oberland. A single volume of wanderings covering 1000 years, it will prove indispensable to the Alpine historian, remain a monument to the author’s capacity for work, and perhaps prove the despair of the general reader—as such anthologies are apt to do.
The book is made up chiefly of a chronological section (467 pages) in which travellers are arranged year by year and alphabetically within the year. After each traveller’s name is his itinerary and, where appropriate, a quotation or anecdote showing his reactions to the scenery or the people. In a topographical section (52 pages), the dates of visits to selected places are given. In an alphabetical section (73 pages), each traveller is listed, with citations of his works and with dates of his travels in bold face, referring back to the chronological section. The chronological breakdown indicates the progressive increase of travel: the period from 941 to 1700 occupies only 25 pages; the 18th century, 85 pages; the 19th century, 313 pages. All in all, the book will tell the reader who went where and when.
J. M. Thorington