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Genius Loci

Notes on Places

Vernon Lee

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Vernon Lee was the pseudonym of the Franco-British writer Violet Paget (1856-1935). For over 50 years, Paget churned out works of both fiction and nonfiction at the rate of nearly a book a year. Perhaps best remembered today for her supernatural short stories, Paget produced a number of books with essays about travel and place. Genius Loci: Notes on Places (1899) was her first.

Genius Loci is not a guidebook or a novel, but an intimate diary or, better said, a series of billets-doux to the places with which Paget has fallen in love. In the book, Paget offers vignettes and postcard-like snapshots of the memory and life of someone who attempted to breathe in the essence of Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Paget's reflections and her erudite insights into the histories of place, art, and literature shine as brightly as they are fleeting. Though her travel writing is little read today, her presence is felt in contemporary travel literature.

Genius Loci represents travel for the sake of travel, experience for the sake of experience, love for the sake of love, and, not least, art for the sake of art.

This Adventures in Ideas reissue contains a new foreword by Jeremy Bassetti.

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Aestheticism, Victorian Literature, Victorian Travel Literature, Travelogue, Violet Paget