Baedekers as Casualty: Great War Nationalism and the Fate of Travel Writing

Journal of the History of Ideas 71 (3):457-480 (2010)
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Abstract

This article addresses the critically neglected relation between Baedekers and nationalism, in order to articulate the reasons for the decline of the Baedeker empire in the early twentieth century. Conditions in the First World War undermined the Baedekers' foundational concepts of landscape description. Additionally, the guidebooks emblematized a lost pre-war style of international journey. However, evidence in unexplored archival and fictional sources qualifies our understanding of these changes. This article revisits and reconciles such assessments, by explaining how the war also recast the Baedekers' mediation of international access as a form of nationalist expansionism, and hence a suspect project.

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