Traveling two and a half months and one thousand miles along the ancient route through southern France and northern Spain, Conrad Rudolph made the passage to the holy site of Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important modern-day pilgrimage destinations for Westerners. In this chronicle of his travels to this captivating place, Rudolph melds the ancient and the contemporary, the spiritual and the physical, in a book that is at once travel guide, literary work, historical study, and memoir.
One way to lend your modern travel some historical weight is to follow the path of past travelers. Rudolph (medieval art & art history, Univ. of California, Riverside) did just that. Like hundreds of others annually, he followed the medieval pilgrimage route from Le Puy, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, after Rome and Jerusalem, the Western world's most popular pilgrimage destination. This was no mere hike; it took Rudolph two and a half months to complete the 1000-mile journey. But he was not content merely to follow a grueling pilgrimage route (a feat in itself); he continued on from Santiago to Finisterre, another 60 miles to the west. What he found is that taking a trek has effects on the trekker beyond just blisters and pains; even more so than the breathtaking scenery and holy sites along the way, it is the memory of the people of the farms and villages (and fellow walkers) that stays with the pilgrim, whether secular or religious. This is a delightful book that will make even the armchair traveler want to see the light. Recommended for large public libraries.-Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.