‘Buy the ticket, take the ride!’
The true passion of literature lovers lies in their talent to transpose in the narrative universe they’re reading about. And while every other page depicts a completely different scenery and distinct surroundings, all of them seen through the eyes of the author. While empathy is what you learn to control and educate in time, it’s also true that you can’t remain indifferent to the explosion of experiences the characters go through. This article’s about any of you who ever got emotionally attached to a character, a series of surreal experiences or a real context seen through someone else’s eyes. Some of us may even like a story or a portrayal of a place so much that we’d like to go and visit these places.
‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’
For those of you who feel the need of freedom and only wish for lack of restraint and are on that period of life when you only feel like continuously being On the Road for some time, being a second Sal Paradise is a great choice, mainly because you can reconstruct his every single journey of his during the period 1947-1950. While the passing of over half a century has made the places look a little different than Jack Kerouac described them, the experience of a life like a puzzle, made out of an infinite series of possibilities is what you’ll see on the road. Your restlessness doesn’t only consume you from within if you’re American and surely such a reconstituting experience is going to generate your own stream of consciousness. Living in the XXIst century isn’t mutually exclusive with being aimed by the beat generation and doing your best to be, for a year or less, part of it. The experiences you’re going to encounter as a stranger in Denver, Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York will definitely change your perspective on traveling, people and life.
‘We like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again.’
Another itinerary that really deserves to be reconstructed by all literature lovers is Cristopher Johnson McCandless’ hitchhiking, wandering trip towards Alaska. Despite the tragic destiny of the main character, Into The Wild remains one of the history’s best told stories about giving up society for at least a period. A philosophy of life based on two important ideas: that joy can come from so many other sources than just relationships and that careers and monotonous lives are an invention of the twentieth century is going to chase you from Dallas, Huston, Red Bluff, Willow Creek to the Gulf of California, San Diego and, finally, Alaska. While the scent of freedom pulsing stronger every step is easing, we strongly recommend that you don’t take the trip alone, for obvious safety reasons. And as you’ll get closer to the destination, you’ll have had the great privilege to meet lots of Americans, so different one from the other that you’ll tend to think they barely have common social norms. The shock’s going to be even bigger if you’re not from America yourself.
‘She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.’
London, the place where fog and rain meet to mantle a city of love and deception, just like a protective mother with a newborn child. A single walk to the St. James Park, the oldest of the eight royal parks, will put you in the shoes of Clarissa Dalloway, as the opulence of the place speaks for itself. If a day of this narcissistic, high class woman was enough for Virginia Woolf to create a masterpiece out of, you’d certainly like to spend more than one in the city. Remaking the routes of the characters clearly won’t remind you of old, forgotten happenings, but most likely going to be astonishing even for those of you who are skeptical. All the highly significant places for the characters of the novel are impressive in itself, as well as for cultural and local specificity criteria. Last, but not least, visiting London aimed by the correspondences with Mrs. Dalloway is a great way to create yourself an accurate perspective of the city overall.
‘[…] a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend.’
The following destination is very close to the previous one. Connected by geographical coordinates, by stylistic approaches and structural similarities, James Joyce’s Dublin in Ulysses is as unusually intense, vibrant and energetic as Woolf’s London. Roaming around the city with a book’s map in front of you won’t only make you actually feel like following Bloom to work, but it’s a national habit as well. Annually, on the author’s birthday, passionate fans of his literature meet near River Liffey and reconstruct the route of Bloom from in the novel, while commenting on different perspectives and acceptations of its inner meanings. Experiencing Dublin as a thought to be hallowed, sublime city of an impassioned, fervid author’s perspective will make you empathize with his beliefs and want to come back again.