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Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster: Traveling through Scotland with Boswell and Johnson
     

Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster: Traveling through Scotland with Boswell and Johnson

by William W. Starr
 

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Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster is a memoir of a twenty-first-century literary pilgrimage to retrace the famous eighteenth-century Scottish journey of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, two of the most celebrated writers of their day. An accomplished journalist and aficionado of fine literature, William W. Starr enlivens this crisply written travelogue

Overview


Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster is a memoir of a twenty-first-century literary pilgrimage to retrace the famous eighteenth-century Scottish journey of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, two of the most celebrated writers of their day. An accomplished journalist and aficionado of fine literature, William W. Starr enlivens this crisply written travelogue with a playful wit, an enthusiasm for all things Scottish, the boon and burden of American sensibility, and an ardent appreciation for Boswell and Johnson--who make frequent cameos throughout these ramblings.
In 1773 the sixty-three-year-old Johnson was England's preeminent man of letters, and Boswell, some thirty years Johnson's junior, was on the cusp of achieving his own literary celebrity. For more than one hundred days, the distinguished duo toured what was then largely unknown Scottish terrain, later publishing their impressions of the trip in a pair of classic journals. In 2007 Starr embarked on a three-thousand-mile trek through the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, following the path--though in reverse--of Boswell and Johnson. Starr tracked their route as closely as the threat of storms, distractions of pubs, and limitations of time would allow. Like his literary forebears, he recorded a wealth of keen observations on his encounters with places and people, lochs and lore, castles and clans, fables and foibles. The tour begins and ends in Edinburgh and includes along the way visits to Glasgow, Inverness, Loch Ness, Culloden, Auchinleck, the Isles of Iona and Skye, and many more destinations. In addition Starr expands his course to include two of the farthest reaches of Scotland where eighteenth-century travelers dared not tread: the Outer Hebrides and the Orkney Islands, remarkable regions shaped by distinctive weather, history, and isolation.
Blending biography, intellectual and cultural history, and comic asides into his travelogue, Starr has crafts an inviting vantage point from which to view aspects of Scotland's storied past and complex present through an illuminating literary lens.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

We read travel books in order to quicken the corpse of desire so much so that we imagine tramping over the hills and far away. Bill Starr carries us along as he follows Johnson's and Boswell's path across Scotland with the highly sensible intention of seeing what he can see. What he shows us is wondrously satisfying: castles and history, single malt Scotch, breakfasts, and days sweet and sour with appealing meanderings.
Sam Pickering
Library Journal
Starr (A Guide to South Carolina Beaches) is a Samuel Johnson and James Boswell fanatic. He here relates meeting Scots along his travels who drew a blank when asked about Johnson and Boswell, despite the men's whirlwind journey through Scotland in 1773. Each wrote about the trip in books that added to their literary acclaim—Johnson is the author of the Dictionary of the English Language, and Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Starr traces their trek in reverse via car, using their own words as guides and inspiration as he tours the great Scottish sites (and partakes in the great Scottish beverage). Not content to limit himself to their paths, he also explores other parts of Scotland. VERDICT True confession: this reviewer was one of those who couldn't completely place Johnson and Boswell, but this book proved enjoyable nonetheless. Scottish history and travel buffs and Johnson and Boswell enthusiasts will find this fun and inspiring.—Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570039485
Publisher:
University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/21/2010
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,075,758
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


William W. Starr has been executive director of the Georgia Center for the Book in Decatur since 2003. A native of Atlanta, he was an editor for United Press International and for thirty years a prize-winning writer and editor for the Columbia (S.C.) State newspaper. Starr is the author of Southern Writers and A Guide to South Carolina Beaches, an associate editor for The South Carolina Encyclopedia, and a contributing essayist for many newspapers and journals.

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