CELEBRATING THE WORLD OF BOOKS AND LITERATURE
The energy and excitement of New York City. The eternal romance of Paris. The dreamy waters of the Mississippi. The seductive spirit of Southern Spain. There are many locations across the world that have served as a muse for writers, and uncovering the literary culture of the countries you visit is a part of every Viking journey. Here, we have gathered together some of the world’s literary greats, their writings, and the destinations that inspired them. Join us as we celebrate some of the works that have helped to shape our world.
With its fabled avenues, bars and cafes, Paris is the literary city par excellence. For centuries, Paris has been a muse for aspiring writers who, in turn, have endowed the city with a magic all its own. French icons Zola, Sartre and Hugo as well as expats, Joyce, Becket and Plath are just some of the names who found inspiration here. Head to the bookshop Shakespeare and Company which was founded in 1919 by American idealist Sylvia Beach and became a centre for American expats like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.
NEW YORK CITY
The city that never sleeps has inspired endless works of literature, and nurtured some brilliant writers. Arthur Miller, J.D. Salinger, Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg found their muse in the Big Apple. Before them, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville and Henry James struck creative gold in New York City. The city itself has served as a backdrop for such iconic novels as The Catcher in the Rye, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and American Pyscho. And as early as the 1800s, the places and people of New York City were a source of inspiration for many of Whitman’s poems.
Ireland produces an extraordinary number of writers and the centre of all that wordsmithing is Dublin. The city has shaped such notable names as Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. Literary lovers will find no shortage of monuments commemorating their work. A statue of the flamboyant author and playwright Oscar Wilde is perched on a rock overlooking his home at No. 1 Merrion Square. Dublin is also the star of James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, and the James Joyce Tower and Museum celebrates the author’s life and works.
THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
The towns and cities along the Mississippi have spawned many American writers, including Tennessee Williams and Anne Rice. But it is Mark Twain, ‘the father of American literature’, who is most famous, along with the Mississippi itself which was the setting for his iconic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) became a steamboat pilot, an occupation that gave him his pen name from ‘mark twain’, the leadsman’s cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms (12 feet) which was safe water for a steamboat.
The Netherlands boasts a rich tradition of art and literature. One of the city’s most famous residents was Anne Frank, and there are few who haven’t been moved by her book The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne’s famous diary records the time that she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis in a secret annexe in a house in Amsterdam. They were eventually found and sent to concentration camps where all except Anne’s father perished. Anne Frank’s House is now a museum where you can visit the family’s hiding place, and see her original diary sitting alone in a glass case. A poignant and powerful experience.
The Scottish capital was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and has been home to numerous writers – it is practically a shrine to Sir Walter Scott, the Scott Monument is the world’s tallest monument commemorating an author. Other bright stars include Robert Burns, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Grahame and J.M. Barrie. Recent names include Dame Muriel Spark, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. Fans of J.K. Rowling, one of Edinburgh’s most famous writers, can visit the Elephant Café, where Rowling penned the Harry Potter books that attracted millions of children to reading.
Andalucia in Southern Spain has long attracted writers. Of its native Spanish writers, Garcia Lorca has the biggest reputation. Poet, novelist and musician, his legacy looms large in the spirit of Granada. Many foreign writers have been drawn to Andalucia, including Hans Christian Andersen and Graham Greene. Yet none identified so strongly with the Spanish culture as Ernest Hemingway. He first travelled to the region in 1923 to experience bullfighting, and his love of the sport was writ large in his novels The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon.
Scandinavian literature covers a huge range, and dates back centuries – yet much of it, like the work of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Recently, the term Nordic Noir has sprung into being, as contemporary Scandinavian writers have taken the literary world by storm. Stockholm has been home to many great authors, including the late Stieg Larsson, who wrote the Millennium trilogy, which includes the bestselling novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
A UNESCO City of Literature and the setting for many famous novels, including Prague Tales and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Prague enjoys a rich literary heritage. Franz Kafka spent most of his life in Prague and the city is often featured in his stories. At the Franz Kafka Museum explore the relationship between the writer and the city that shaped him through original letters, photographs, publications and films. Even if you’ve never read The Castle or The Trial you get the distinct feeling that Prague is kakfaesque – the writer even gets his own adjective.
Throughout history, the Vietnamese people have witnessed tragedy, war and upheaval. Many Vietnamese authors have written about these experiences, creating beautiful works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction that capture the essence of their country’s political conflicts. Marguerite Duras is one of the country’s most famous writers, and the celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du is best known for his epic poem The Tale of Kiều. While Graham Greene’s book The Quiet American depicts the breakdown of French colonialism in Vietnam and early American involvement in the Vietnam War.