The Art of Travel by Francis Galton
English travel writers have a long tradition of chronicling their adventures and discoveries in foreign lands. Their stories often feature high drama, absurdity and humor; however Alain de Botton is not such an author; his ‘art of travel’ more closely resembles taking aller-retours on trains or planes than actually exploring new places.
He attempts to compensate for this by quoting from authors such as Edward Hopper, Baudelaire, Flaubert and von Humboldt – who describe the difficulties of travel and provide advice for remembering experiences. Unfortunately, these quotations seem more relevant to de Botton’s predecessors rather than his own thoughts, which often sound generic and self-conscious.
In his ”art,’ he makes some insightful observations that give the book some wit and charm. Ultimately, it’s definitely worth a read for anyone wanting to explore some of the world’s wonders without having to pay for modern transport.
One of the best chapters, for instance, is dedicated to food and drink. He gives advice on brewing tea using a thermometer, and suggests that in certain circumstances it might even be possible to distill water from a gun barrel. He also includes instructions for pulling teeth as well as creating sleeping bags from fur.
Galton, an English Victorian polymath and cousin of Charles Darwin, was an explorer and proto-geneticist who founded psychometrics. Additionally, he pioneered eugenics – coining the term himself and backing it with research on heredity and variation.
His research into eugenics led him to study many aspects of human variation, such as height, mental ability and facial characteristics. He employed various methods for collecting data on these traits and developed statistical techniques that became central components in the study of population genetics.
The Art of Travel was first published in 1855 and went through multiple editions. It collected practical advice from various travelers and was continually improved as new material became available.
This edition has been reprinted in a modern format so it can be easily discovered and enjoyed again. Edited, retyped and illustrated by Stackpole Books with reproductions from original nineteenth century drawings, this edition will make an ideal gift for any history buff!
Even though it has been in print for over 140 years, Francis Galton’s classic work, “The Art of Travel,” remains an invaluable guide and resource for adventurers in remote places.
This edition of the “Art of Travel” has been completely revised and updated to reflect technological advances in travel over the last century. It boasts an abundance of illustrations and diagrams for easy reference.
Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin and staunch supporter of evolutionary theory, invented new statistical methods for probing heredity and variation in populations. Additionally, he funded a chair in eugenics at University College London. As the first person to apply’regression toward the mean’ in anthropometric studies, he created an innovative research program on human differences that would become the cornerstone for social scientific inquiry today.