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For more than a thousand years, the collective imagination – and footsteps! – of millions of people have been captured by the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Recently, in recognition that the pilgrimage route has functioned as much as a conceptual conduit for establishing medieval culture as it has as a physical pathway for wandering travellers, the Way of Saint James was designated as Europe’s first Cultural Itinerary Route in addition to being recognised by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site. The main Camino route into which the feeder paths converge is known as the Camino Francés, which winds its way across northern Spain for seven hundred kilometres and overlays an earlier pagan route that had followed the celestial Milky Way westward to Finisterre, the end of the medieval European world.
Along the Way: Pilgrimage Scenes From the Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostelais unique among contemporary Camino publications in that it is part travelogue, part literary review, and part cultural commentary. Readers can follow Robert France’s own pilgrimage along his “namesake road” through focused and succinct excerpts from his journal that are accompanied by hundreds of photographs, many of subjects such as architectural appreciation that have seldom been discussed or shown before. The book also provides the first interpretation of the prevalent themes – adventure, joy, contact, and contemplation – covered in the published literature of modern Camino accounts. Finally, Along the Way undertakes the first illumination of the modern cultural phenomena of the Camino through surveying the zeitgeist of the Way.
About the Author
Robert Lawrence France is a leading authority on the ecology, management, design, and history of cultural landscapes. He has taught at the universities of Harvard, McGill, and Ca’Foscari, and is presently a professor at Dalhousie University where he is a member of the Rural Research Centre. Dr. France has published hundreds of technical articles and more than a dozen books, including Ultreia! Onward! Progress of the Pilgrim and recently Veniceland Atlantis: The Bleak Future of the World’s Favourite City (Libri Publishing, 2011). Additionally, for more than two decades, he has engaged in long-distance walking journeys around the world, including the longest man-haul sledging expedition in the Canadian High Arctic since the days of the Franklin search, as well as covering more than three thousand kilometres along various medieval pilgrim ways throughout Europe.