The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook Paperback – Jul 21 2000
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
absolutely 'must have' for any history buff f going to Northern Spain and visiting places along the Way. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book has been a great guide to planning the actual hike. Have gone through it twice and found more info each time.Published on June 19 2014 by dmg1350
I think some of the sections are interesting but I thought the author could have included more relevant information that would have made the Camino come alive a bit more.Published on June 4 2013 by David W Brown
I bought this book in 2003 before embarking upon the Camino Frances. It turned out to be a marvelous multi-faceted reference. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by Grant Spangler
I purchased this book after reading all of the rave reviews listed here, but don't be fooled as I was! Read morePublished on March 12 2002
This book provides a lot of information about the art and culture to be found along the Camino, but it is a totally unpractical guide for those actually walking the 750km to... Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2001 by Chris Brazee
This is THE guide to the Road to Santiago, written by the foremost American experts, who bring the culture and context of the pilgrimage alive. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2000
David Gitlitz and Linda Davidson have written a remarkable cultural handbook on the Road to Santiago. Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2000 by Conrad Kent