Biblical Archaeology Review 35:1, January/February 2009

Past Perfect: Itching to Sojourn in Tiberias

Alexander William Kinglake (1809–1891) was born in Somerset, England. He practiced law and served 11 years in the House of Commons, but his wealth and position in society led to a desire to travel abroad. He toured the Levant in 1844. Kinglake’s account of that journey, Eothen (“Towards the East,” 1849), changed the way travelogues were written. He didn’t set down facts and figures, or relate every place or ruin that he saw. He wrote a flowing narrative of only the experiences that struck his fancy in the casual manner of a long letter to his friend British novelist Eliot Warburton, who also wrote travelogues. Kinglake’s writing is full of irony and humor but also reflects a pompous air. His Victorian superiority comes across quite well as he relates his trip through the Galilee:

Neither old “Sacred” [Shereef his guide] himself, nor any of his helpers, knew the road which I meant to take from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, and from thence to Jerusalem, so I was forced to add another to my party, by hiring a guide. The associations of Nazareth, as well as my kind feeling towards the hospitable monks, whose guest I had been, inclined me to set at naught the advice which I had received against employing Christians. I accordingly engaged a lithe, active young Nazarene, who was recommended to me by the monks, and who affected to be familiar with the line of country through which I intended to pass. My disregard of the popular prejudices against Christians was not justified in this particular instance, by the result of my choice. This you will see by-and-by.

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