Check out this great overview of a recently released compendium of Charles Dickens’ travel writing. I can’t wait to pick up a copy of my own.

[Dickens] noticed “a mysterious, runaway kind of couple,” of whom the gentleman “carried more guns with him than Robinson Crusoe.”

“I remember,” Dickens writes, “that he tried hot roast pig and bottled ale as a cure for seasickness; and that he took these remedies (usually in bed) day after day, with astonishing perseverance. I may add, for the information of the curious, that they decidedly failed.”

These droll passages make Dickens’ travel writing feel lively and modern. He is not merely talking about places. He is bending his ear for the absurd. He is reflecting on beauty and aging. He is turning his eye to the dynamics between people.

“And now,” he writes as his train rolls farther into France, “I find that all the French people on board begin to grow, and all the English people begin to shrink. The French are nearing home, and shaking off a disadvantage, whereas we are shaking it on.”