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The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook Paperback – Jul 21 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 21 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312254164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312254162
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #96,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, specialists in Hispanic studies at the University of Rhode Island, met on the Road on their first pilgrimage to Santiago in 1974. Davidson has written several scholarly works on the pilgrimage to Compostela with co-author Maryjane Dunn. Gitlitz is the author of various books on Hispanic and Sephardic culture, including the prize-winning Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews. Their first book written together, also from St. Martin's Press, was A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews, for which they won the National Jewish Book Award and the award for Distinguished Scholarship form the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As is apparent from other reviews in this thread, "The Pilgrim's Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook" by Gitlitz and Davidson elicits strong feelings, both pro and con. I personally found this book to be an invaluable reference while walking the pilgrimage route. However, I recognize how other individuals might differ in their assessment.
First and foremost, it is essential to recognize what this book is NOT designed to do.
The handbook is not a trail guide.
It does not list refuges or explain where to camp.
It does not tell you where to eat or what to pack.
If this is what you are looking for, find another book.
With that said and done, the handbook did provide me with an extremely valuable reference in establishing a cultural context for the sites that I was visiting. I am not an expert in Romanesque architecture, nor do I know the lives of Roman Catholic saints well enough to recognize the major figures in a Retablo. I never had the opportunity to extensively study the history of the pilgrimage. Left to my own devices, I would most certainly never have read much in the way of medieval Spanish poetry. In all honesty, even after walking the pilgrimage route, I am still far from expert in all of these areas. However, the handbook did provide me with enough information that I was able to appreciate much more of the sites that I was visiting.
As other individuals have noted, time for sightseeing is often short. I found the handbook to be extremely useful in prioritizing my time and determining which sites would be most interesting to visit. As an example, none of the other sources that I consulted noted the existence of the Blacksmith forge at Compludo which may very well have been my favorite part of the trip.
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Format: Paperback
I was expecting to know something about the medieval heretic Prisciliano but the authors don't mention him. Prisciliano is, according to studies by Victoria Armesto, the real person buried in place of Santiago. Poor old Prisciliano will have to keep waiting in ostracism a little bit longer...
Another thing: The cockleshells that symbolize the pilgrim. The authors don't mention the theory that relates it to the birth of Venus (see Botticelli's work).
Anyway, the book reads easily.
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Format: Paperback
I have just had the pleasure of attending a seminar by Linda Kay Davidson entitled "On the Road to Compostela," in which she narrated a two-hour slideshow of her five pilgrimages in Spain with her husband and several students. Much of the content of "The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago" was touched upon during the lecture: the religious background, various myths and legends, stories from the rural villages along the road, and the spiritual experience involved.
One of my favourite moments was when Davidson asked, "What is a pilgrimage?" The audience was composed of various nationalities, religions and ethnic groups, but we all had ideas to offer. The third or fourth brave soul said that a pilgrimage was a religious experience. She continued her explanation and we arrived at the definition of a pilgrimage as a journey that takes one away from comforts and friends, a journey of self-discovery, and one that must be made on foot.
She mentioned other secular pilgrimages: Graceland, the Alamo, and on a more sombre note, the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and the former site of the World Trade Centre in New York City. A pilgrimage can extend to finding a deeper meaning in life, not necessarily of a religious nature, a pilgrimage as a voyage of discovery.
I was fortunate to attend Linda Kay Davidson's seminar; I learned a great deal about pilgrimages in general and Santiago de Compostela, about the history of the region, the terrain, the rural towns and friendly townsfolk, cloistered nuns who had not seen the next village over and would never do so except by postcard, the architecture, from gothic to baroque, the sometimes humorous stories of saints' lives, the sombre roadside shrines for pilgrims who ultimately did not finish their journey.
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Format: Paperback
In preparation for my first official pilgrimage to Compostela, I've sought out references from every possible fountain. Davidson and Gitlitz offer the consumate guide to the novice pilgrim, with plenty for the seasoned shell-bearer. This book is thorough in its detail, appealing in its prose and appetizing in its descriptions. Having lived in many of the places along the road, I've been critical of many of the books I've read as too heavy on the "Big C" culture: That which isn't really culture at all...just the obvious stereotype. This book is heavy on the "Little C" culture, as a book which delves into little-known asides which inspire the traveler to seek and find, and create a unique memory for themselves.
It offers a variety of insights on history, lore, architecture, terrain, and other "bonuses". It's a quick read, but allows you enough of the whole to enitce you to explore and gain the rest on your own industry.
Of all the guidebooks I've purchased, this is the ONLY one that will be travelling in my pack on the Road to Santiago.
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