"O Switzerland!": Travelers' Accounts 57 BCE to the Present


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Pilgrims and traders, soldiers and refugees, scientists and artists, alpinists and invalids: Switzerland has enticed them for more than two millennia. They have loved it and hated it, cursed it and sung its praises; they have made war and made love, reported on its food and its religion, its peaks and its poverty, its dances and its prisons.

In 20 thematic chapters, “O Switzerland!” evokes a complex, ever-surprising nation in the words of over 200 travelers—from Napoleon to Nietzsche, Petrarch to Prince, Mary Shelley to Mark Twain. With his deft narration and wry humor, compiler Ashley Curtis leads the reader over the mountains and through the centuries, highlighting connections and disparities by turns ironic, hilarious, and sublime.

Mark Twain on bad beer, Mary Shelley on fisticuffs, Alexandre Dumas on cannibalism, Rilke on designer soaps, Madame de Stäel on cretinism, Byron on incest, Montaigne on dirty linen, Felix Mendelssohn on flood damage, Leo Tolstoy on desire, James Baldwin on nightmares, George Sand on invisible virgins, J.R.R. Tolkein on sleeping in the rough, Henry James on knitting, Charles Dickens on human dust, Goethe on footbaths, Pope Pius XI on chocolate and kirsch, Nathaniel Hawthorne on hangings, Joseph Addison on witchcraft, Samuel Butler on cherrypicking, Zelda Fitzgerald on teacups, Hans Arp on Dada, Friedrich Nietzsche on raw eggs, John Ruskin on soaped poles, Poggio Bracciolini on the garden of pleasure, Voltaire on gardening, Lenin on armed revolution, Gertrude Bell on rock climbing, D.H. Lawrence on throwing sticks, and much, much more: here is Switzerland as you have never seen it before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783038690467
Publisher: Schwabe AG, Bergli Books
Publication date: 06/11/2018
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Ashley Curtis was born in California in 1959 and became a Swiss citizen in 2013. He is the author of Irrtum und Verlust and the upcoming books Why do the Swiss Have Such Great Sex? and Double, Double. From 2009 to 2014 he was Co-Director of the Ecole d'Humanité in Hasliberg in the Bernese Oberland.

Date of Birth:

November 30, 1835

Date of Death:

April 21, 1910

Place of Birth:

Florida, Missouri

Place of Death:

Redding, Connecticut

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction 4 Chapter 1: Switzerland 7 In which we consider praise and damnation, liberty and tyranny, war and peace, beginnings and ends Chapter 2: The Swiss 16 In which we consider truth and napkins, women and men, avarice and sterility, prejudice and virtue Chapter 3: Lodging 23 In which we consider sweaty stoves, dirty linens, disease, vermin, shared quarters, bribes, seduction, gigolos, communists, factory workers, cabinets and bathtubs Chapter 4: Food and Drink 31 In which we consider feasts, hunger, an escargatoire, the fumet of a partridge, the table d’hôte, cannibalism, conching and expensive beer Chapter 5: Mountains 38 In which we consider horror, wonder, transition, skepticism, and science Chapter 6: Cretinism, Goiters, Beggars 51 In which we consider congenital hypothyroidism, homespun etiologies, the advantages of being strumous, and a decline in the morals of the Swiss Chapter 7: Transportation 56 In which we consider horses, wolves, mules, barks, canoes, steamers, artillery wagons, sedan chairs, carriages, trains, feet, chairlifts, trams and passports Chapter 8: Animals 66 In which we consider wolves, ibex, chamoix, the taste and inheritance of bears, the ghostly realm of peacocks, the captivity of lions, the intelligence of dogs, and the one that got away Chapter 9: Justice 76 In which we consider dungeons, executions, torture, adultery, poor houses, juries and suicide Chapter 10: Religion 82 In which we consider intolerance, tolerance, discipline, war, civil disobedience, heat, prejudice, processions, tombs, pizzles, miracles and Dakinis Chapter 11: Baths, Cures 93 In which we consider the garden of pleasure, the workings of the waters, cuckoldry, raw meat, the biggest man in Switzerland, name-brand resorts, and the lives of invalids Chapter 12: Agriculture 104 In which we consider good pasture, legs of iron, Gruyère cheese, cherries, nastiness, gleaning, viticulture, urban gardening and agricultural heroism Chapter 13: Poverty 111 In which we consider migration, malaria, ruin, fatigue, filth, and mountain gloom Chapter 14: Industry, Commerce, Craftsmanship 115 In which we consider money, watches, day jobs, greed, the market, windows, swords, knitting, the vapors, work permits, a vagrant dictator, corruption, free trade, contraband, tourism and tunneling Chapter 15: Passes 129 In which we consider spiked boots, frozen ink, hypothermia, Alpine justice, Satan’s works, military strategy, dusty morgues, bikes, cars, trains, and insignificance Chapter 16: Lakes, Rivers, Falls 142 In which we consider the soul, cabbages, youth and age, Cow Piss, climate science, geology, flood damage, a daily miracle, the village fountain, skinny-dipping and lepidoptery Chapter 17: War 148 In which we consider Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, women warriors, marksmanship, mercenaries, arbitration, refugees and collateral damage Chapter 18: Winter Sports 158 In which we consider invalids on toboggans, two slips of elm, the scene at St. Moritz, the role of evening dress, and the decline of the British Empire Chapter 19: Music, Arts and Letters 165 In which we consider native folk dancing and music, and the genesis and finis of works of genius Chapter 20: Alpinism 179 In which we consider attraction, and its consequences The Travelers 201 Brief Biographies

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