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Forum Book Club - 1 - The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago (Gitlitz and Davidson)

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Since it will take a bit of time to select a book by voting (here) and then give people some time to get that book and start reading, let's start a thread with a book that is recognized as a classic Camino source. It is a book that most people seem to use as a reference, rather than reading straight through.

The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook, by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, is 921 460 pages long and is available in paperback and Kindle.

This is not a book that lends itself to the same type of "discussion" as other books being considered. I have never examined it, but I've heard over and over about it, and would consider buying it.

In a recent Zoom call, it was suggested for Book Club discussion, but the observations was made that it applies only to the Camino Frances. Then it was pointed out that there was a lot of information that was interesting for someone traveling on any route.

So, recognizing that many/most of us have not read the book yet, I propose the following questions for discussion.
  1. If you own the Gitlitz-Davidson book, how do you "use" it, and why would I want (or not want) to get it?
    • Do you read it cover to cover in advance of a walk, do you make notes, carry e-book and study each day, read only selected parts, etc., etc.?
    • Is it timeless, or getting out-of-date?
    • How is it organized? Does it have a good index?
    • How location-specific is it?
    • Is it authoritative or it some of the information not reliable?
  2. If you don't own it yet, what questions do you have about it?
 
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I bought this book when I first heard of the Camino -- my daughter was walking from Burgos with a small group from her college in May 2009. I read it as I followed her walk and ended up reading it cover to cover. I was so glad I had done so before we walked in 2013. My (paperback) copy was falling apart, because after that first read, I used it as a reference many times over. I moved from Idaho to Ohio during the summer of 2019 and just realized that my copy did not make the move! I must have loaned it to someone and did not get it back...

I think there are definitely some aspects of the book that are out of date. Woven into the architecture and cultural info is info on walking directions and other tips. The latter are out of date. But the book is loaded with basic info about the towns, cities, churches and art along the way. This is stuff that will never be out of date. I highly recommend it if you are interested in the art, architecture, and stories/mythology of the way.

LizB
 

Luther

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2016
I recently purchased a hard copy upon learning of the passing of David Gitlitz. I remembered David Whitson interviewing the two of them (David and Linda) in an older podcast. While I'm reading it slowly, and not a long way into it, I'm finding it fascinating to learn more history and monuments that I missed during my pilgrimage.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook, by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, is 921 pages long and is available in paperback and Kindle. If you own the Gitlitz-Davidson book, how do you "use" it, and why would I want (or not want) to get it?
I'll have a go ☺️ .

I own both the book edition and the e-book edition. I highly recommend The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago - The Complete Cultural Handbook to anyone who is interested in the historical and architectural and related cultural background of the Camino Frances.

If you just want a succinct overview for this wide ranging subject matter, then there may be more suitable books. This Complete Cultural Handbook is very detailed. However, it is so well organised that it allows you to skip passages that do not interest you.

The book has 440 pages (not sure where the number "951" comes from?). The format is larger than many paperbacks and weighs 500 g (1 pound). It has a few maps and drawings which are included in both the paperback and the digital edition.

If it's ok with you, I'll break up my answers to the individual points into separate posts.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Do you read it cover to cover in advance of a walk, do you make notes, carry e-book and study each day, read only selected parts, etc., etc.?
I used The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook mainly in this way: When I am in a particular location, let's say Estella, I go to the Monuments section for the location. This section list sites of interest, in the case of Estella there are 15 monuments enumerated (churches, secular buildings, convents). Those that are particularly interesting or important for historical or architectural reasons are marked in bold, so they are easy to identify. When I am in front of one such monument, I read the detailed description and compare it to what I see in front of me. This allows me to learn more about some aspects and to pick out details of what I am seeing that I would otherwise not even notice or where I know nothing or very little. This is a delightful activity for me but it may be very boring for others.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Is it timeless, or getting out-of-date?
The majority of the content is timeless because it mainly deals with the distant past, and while we learn the odd new thing about this past or develop a new interpretation, most of our knowledge in this respect does not fundamentally change. However, as time advances, small gaps appear in some chapters that will not be filled as there are no updates or revisions of the book. Some examples:

The entry for Castromaior (after Portomarín) merely states that ruins of a Roman camp have been discovered on the edge of the village. Just beyond the town to the northeast, over the river is a small pre-Roman Castro where some ceramics have been found. Based solely on this information, I would probably not have bothered to visit the Castromaior hillfort which is regarded as one of the most exceptional archaeological sites in Galicia. I suppose that major digs took place after 1996, the last time that the Gitlitz/Davidson groups walked. I am glad that I learnt about the site on this forum and visited it.​

For Roncesvalles, there is no mention of more recently added artwork on display, such as the modern sculpture of the horse and rider lying on the ground, i.e. the mythical Roland dying in the battle of Roncesvalles. The statue can be seen in Roncesvalles since 2010. More regrettably for me, there is also no mention of a reproduction of a famous Romanesque sculpture of a battle scene between two horsemen in full military dress, one from the Muslim army and one from the Frankish army, with realistic details of their (medieval) outfits and the differences between them. I missed this chance to view it up close and in detail. The original is on a building in Estella but I think it's tiny and I missed it there, too. There is also no mention of this rusty curly artwork in Roncesvalles that you often see on photos and I don't even know what it is and why it's there. On the other hand, the book describes the small museum of Roncesvalles and its remarkable content in detail. I am glad that I visited it. Without the book, I would not have bothered as most pilgrims don't seem to be aware of its existence and don't mention it.​

But these are minor points. The wealth of information in the book is overwhelming.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
Since it will take a bit of time to select a book by voting (here) and then give people some time to get that book and start reading, let's start a thread with a book that is recognized as a classic Camino source. It is a book that most people seem to use as a reference, rather than reading straight through.

The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook, by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, is 921 pages long and is available in paperback and Kindle.

This is not a book that lends itself to the same type of "discussion" as other books being considered. I have never examined it, but I've heard over and over about it, and would consider buying it.

In a recent Zoom call, it was suggested for Book Club discussion, but the observations was made that it applies only to the Camino Frances. Then it was pointed out that there was a lot of information that was interesting for someone traveling on any route.

So, recognizing that many/most of us have not read the book yet, I propose the following questions for discussion.
  1. If you own the Gitlitz-Davidson book, how do you "use" it, and why would I want (or not want) to get it?
    • Do you read it cover to cover in advance of a walk, do you make notes, carry e-book and study each day, read only selected parts, etc., etc.?
    • Is it timeless, or getting out-of-date?
    • How is it organized? Does it have a good index?
    • How location-specific is it?
    • Is it authoritative or it some of the information not reliable?
  2. If you don't own it yet, what questions do you have about it?
Such a good idea I just purchased the book last week thanks to someone on th forum mentioning the passing ofDavid Gitlitz I am reading it accurately Since England suis no ma first language
Il have the map of f the Camino
And the pictures I took along the way and I try to match them along the chapters .

Since I took my time while walkingand I visited and took guided tours as much as possible i feel like this books now summarise what I learnt from bits and pieces
I also at the same time read in spanish’100cosas que saber del Camino’de Carlos Cuenca .The 2 books matches perfectly for me... and some other references seem to work

Of I am not sure I will remember everything for m next Camino but step by step my brain is printing it !! My memory is very visual.. to have the pics helps a lot
Good reading for everyone
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
How is it organized? Does it have a good index?
How location-specific is it?
Is it authoritative or it some of the information not reliable?
Location-specific and authoritative. Probably THE authority for many later Camino books and blogs. I remember that I noticed one mistake about a famous cruceiro, probably something that escaped the proof-reading and that got copied without questioning by later writers and bloggers 😎. I was tempted to write to David Gitlitz to point it out but I didn't bother in the end ...

Excellent organisation:
  • a short 4-page summary of the pilgrimage to Compostela, i.e. the Saint James legend and the development of the Compostela pilgrimage from the beginning until the middle of the 20th century

  • 88 chapters on the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragones - from the French-Spanish border until Santiago. Organised in geographical order from east to west. This covers about 360 pages.

  • a 2-page Spanish-English glossary that helps to understand words you may encounter in Spain when you are trying to decipher some content, such as arzobispo, barrio, caserio, desamortización, frontón, rollo, romería.
    I see only one word in this glossary that is specific to the contemporary pilgrimage: ampolla (for blister). No café con leche, cerveza, zuma de naranja, hospitalera - it is not that kind of Camino book although the book occasionally deals with gastronomy that is typical for a region.

  • 12 pages with drawings that explain typical art styles and artwork characteristic for what you encounter on the Camino Frances. This includes a short description of the ubiquitous retablos and a quick explanation of what a tympanon and a tetramorphos is - something that you can see in practically every town.

  • 6 pages with names and descriptions of artists relevant to the Pilgrimage Road (= Camino Frances). I have barely looked at this.

  • 16 pages on saints and religious iconography. About 150 entries, mainly saints relevant to the Pilgrimage Road. No images but it helps to understand what you see.

  • 14 pages in a kind of table form as a Time Line of Rulers and Events from 895 to 1515. I think that this would be designed and drawn up in a visually more appealing form today.

  • a bibliography of 5 pages of works cited

  • half a page of suggestions for additional reading. It includes the books by Jack Hitt and Edward Stanton that made it into this forum's recent book club list, both published in 1994. One could regard these suggestions as incomplete or outdated today.

  • a 10-page index. Useless in the digital edition as there are no page numbers and no links to relevant text in the various chapters. On the other hand, you have of course a search function for the digital edition that you don't have for the paperback.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Have just begun to read the book, but have been skipping around to see what it says about various points I found interesting. I bought the Kindle version, and will definitely carry this with me on my next Camino. On the previous two Caminos (CF and CP), I carried my iPad (an extra bunch of ounces) so I could avoid carrying books. This book will join the others in my portable e-library. So far, it is delightful reading.
 

Hugh Larkin

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I borrowed this book from our local library prior to our walking the CF in 2014. After having read cover-to-cover, I thought it was such a great reference tool for so many aspects - history, religion, art, culture, etc. - that I bought an ecopy from Apple books for my iPad (my electronic journal tool) so I could handwrite notes for things to look for during the next day’s stage. Using my daily notes allowed us to see things that others walked by as we stood observing what David & Linda had described. It’s on my list of books to re-read as I ponder traveling again.
 
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Holly Mitchem

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
I have posted several times about how much I love this book, and often recommend it in a women's Camino FB group that I am in when someone asks about the art, architecture, history, or natural history of the Frances. I am an art historian and find that I don't have much patience for all the camino memoirs out there (though I did enjoy To the Field of Stars and Rebekah Scott's wonderful A Furnace Full of God and also her translation of The Great Westward Walk). Anyways, back to The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago.
I first read it as a hard copy in preparation for my 2016 Camino Frances and loved it. I am used to and enjoy reading art and architectural history and was so delighted that here was a book that was about the landscapes, towns and cities and was not about someone's inner journey, as most Camino memoirs seem to be. So I bought the Kindle version and brought it with me on my pilgrimage. Each evening over a glass of wine or beer we would read aloud the section about what we would be seeing the following day. It added so much depth our Camino.
What has not been mentioned is that the book also addresses the natural history of the Frances - the birds, mammals, flowers, trees...so if you are wondering as you climb some of the higher passes what the birds are that soar above your head, you can find out in the book. It is not detailed enough for an expert in these fields but certainly added to our general knowledge of the ecology of the regions we walked through.
As others have said, its lodging info is very out of date. I would not use it for a route map. But I would find it indispensable for the next time I am able to walk the Frances. On our partial Camino del Norte in 2018, I bemoaned the fact that there was nothing that I was aware of that was comparable. I am looking forward to the book club as I always seem to have at least one Camino book going at any given time.
 
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We are both keen readers of books to do with the Camino. We recently purchased this book for kindle on our iPhone. We also tried to buy the paperback version but have been unable to get it so far.
I (Anne) have unfortunately recently become aware of my osteoarthritis in my lt knee. As part of my treatment for this we have an exercise bike. So once or twice a day I am reading this book on kindle while cycling!
It’s a very interesting read, not for bedtime reading but good while exercising!
Looking forward to also using it while on our next Camino, so that we are more aware of the history of the Camino. I am in Estella at the moment in the book and finding the history of that area amazing.
Would definitely recommend it, wish we had read it before our first Camino in 2014!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
What has not been mentioned is that the book also addresses the natural history of the Frances - the birds, mammals, flowers, trees...so if you are wondering as you climb some of the higher passes what the birds are that soar above your head, you can find out in the book. It is not detailed enough for an expert in these fields but certainly added to our general knowledge of the ecology of the regions we walked through.
That's good to know. Not many of the guides seem to cover this.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
David Whitson, The Camino Podcast - episode 23 Pioneers, is a marvelous interview with David Gitlitz and Linda Davidson. I highly recommend it
David Whitson's podcasts are linked on the forum. Here's where Ivar introduced him, and Episode 23 in particular.

To listen to that episode, go to this link on Soundcloud and scroll down to find Episode 23 - the Pioneers.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I bought a copy a few weeks ago when Prof Gitlitz’s passing was posted.

It’s very much ‘just the facts’, which suits me perfectly - I’ve read enough inane rambling about the unique experience which a couple hundred thousand people every year seem to manage to have without resorting to publication.

The references to natural history are very much ‘in passing’, the main content of the book is history, legend, architecture and extant monuments especially -and unsurprisingly - churches and cathedrals.

It’s great ‘quiet hour’ reading at home and selected notes will accompany me in my next walk.

A ‘must have’ and ‘must read the relevant bits’ for any Camino Frances enthusiast, in my opinion.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
It’s very much ‘just the facts’, which suits me perfectly - I’ve read enough inane rambling about the unique experience which a couple hundred thousand people every year seem to manage to have without resorting to publication.
Every Camino is unique and every Camino is not.

There have been a number of threads on this forum asking why people would want to walk the Camino again, or walk the same route again. And one thing you read again and again in the responses is that to walk the same route again is not to have the same experience again. Things will be different. You will meet different people. You may have different weather, stop at different places. You will be different. It is best not to approach it with expectations of having the same experience again.

On the other hand, there are certain things we consistently seem to find on Camino. That is also what tends to bring back pilgrims again and again. There are places that become favourites. People we see again (like Marcelino in Logrono or David before Astorga). There are common experiences and patterns and lessons that we start to forget after a while but going on Camino again reminds us of what we learned before.

That's why I enjoy reading well-written books about other people's Camino experiences and watching the videos that they share on YouTube or Vimeo when they choose to document their Caminos that way. There is enough different in the particulars that it adds to my experience rather than simply repeating it. But there is enough similar in the experience that it brings back happy memories of my own Caminos, like seeing old friends, and it reminds me of lessons I may be beginning to forget.

But to each, their own. Others certainly will have completely different experiences reading the books, just as others will have completely different experiences on their Caminos. There is room enough for all of us.

And to keep this post on topic, I'll write something about The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook, by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson. Since I own the book, the questions asked of me were how do I use it and why would someone want to get it. More specifically:
  • Do you read it cover to cover in advance of a walk, do you make notes, carry e-book and study each day, read only selected parts, etc., etc.?
  • Is it timeless, or getting out-of-date?
  • How is it organized? Does it have a good index?
  • How location-specific is it?
  • Is it authoritative or is some of the information not reliable?
I own the book twice: In a large, physical paperback copy that lives on my shelf and in a Kindle version that lives on my phone. I tend to use the former at home and the latter on Camino.

I tend to use it in four ways:
  1. I use it as a reference at home when I need to know something about the history or cultural artifacts of the Camino Frances. I use it as a reference to answer questions that pop up in these forums, or to add historic or art history information to what I post (for example, recently when posting about San Miguel de Escalada, I looked it up in the book.)
  2. I will also read sections at home for pleasure reading, although I don't think I ever read it cover to cover in one go.
  3. On Camino, as others do, I will read about the next day's location in advance.
  4. I will also open it when at a monument (church, cathedral, etc.) to use as a tour guide. This is particularly effective at the large ones with lots to offer, like the Burgos Cathedral, where you can stand before a portico or retablo with the guide and it will tell you what to look at and what to pay particular attention to.
Much of it is timeless, as much on the Camino is timeless. How much has the art and architecture of the Burgos Cathedral changed in the last 30 years? But things do change. New places get built, old ones restored and changed. The book doesn't keep up. For example, when it was written, pilgrims entered the cathedral in Santiago through the entrance on Obradoiro Square, pausing to place their hand on the column in the parteluz that holds the Saint. That is how it is described in the book, although we no longer enter through that entrance nor place our hand on that column. It is wise to have another guidebook that can bring you up to date on more recent things, but that in no way negates the value of what this book offers. You just have to recognize what is timeless and what is out of date, for the book contains both.

Katar1na has done an excellent job covering the organization. I won't repeat it. The book has a section near the beginning, "How to read this book", that goes over the organization and conventions of the book in greater detail.

How location specific is it? The second part, with reference material, is not location-specific at all. The first part, organized by location, is certainly location-specific ... in one sense. They are talking about specific locations, and specific monuments in those locations and historic events associated with those locations. In doing so, they reveal much of more general interest. When they talk about a Gothic cathedral, they will reveal much about Gothic architecture that will be of interest and use when looking at Gothic architecture elsewhere. The same goes for when they talk about a Romanesque church. They talk about the history of certain kings and kingdoms, and eras in Spanish and European history and how they affected particular places. What we learn about these can be applied in other places they affected. And so on. There is much of general use that is presented, but in this part of the book it is presented as it is instantiated in a particular location.

While some have disagreed with me that the book is specific to the Camino Frances (or the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragones, or the Camino Frances, the Camino Aragones, and the Camino Navarro, depending on how you define this terms) because so much of it is more broadly applicable, I stand by my assertion. This book will not serve the same way on other Caminos as it does on these. When I am walking these Caminos, I can use the book as a reference to the particular places I am. I can look up the Burgos Cathedral and see what it has to offer, or the Camino history of Ponferrada. Were I walking the Via de la Plata I couldn't use the book to look up the Cathedral in Sevilla or the history of Merida. I do wish similar books were written for other Camino routes.

I generally treat it as authoritative. The authors are academics and noted scholars in this field and have a wealth of both academic research and lived experience to back up what they write. That said, it is only authoritative to a point. And that point is the year 2000 when the book was written. Things have changed since then and new things have been discovered. To the extent that it is out of date, it is not authoritative. But while some books may be more up to date than this one, I don't know of any that are more authoritative.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Camino. But I think its greatest value is as a reference book, read in bits and pieces directed by need or interest, than as a book that is read cover to cover, absorbed, and set aside.
 
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GaTeach

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP to SdC 2017,
Considering same route in 2021 after swearing NEVER AGAIN.
I just got this in the mail a couple of days from thriftbooks.com! I'm looking forward to getting into it!
 
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Lucyk

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo 2015
It's an excellent book and I say that as a medieval historian, as well as someone interested in the Camino. The research is first class and the history is highly reliable. I used it in a kind of unconventional way -- I published a historical novel about the pilgrimage road during the 12th century, and it was the perfect source for that! It gave me a great idea what a pilgrim would, and would not see, at that specific time.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
I used The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook mainly in this way: When I am in a particular location, let's say Estella, I go to the Monuments section for the location. This section list sites of interest, in the case of Estella there are 15 monuments enumerated (churches, secular buildings, convents). Those that are particularly interesting or important for historical or architectural reasons are marked in bold, so they are easy to identify. When I am in front of one such monument, I read the detailed description and compare it to what I see in front of me. This allows me to learn more about some aspects and to pick out details of what I am seeing that I would otherwise not even notice or where I know nothing or very little. This is a delightful activity for me but it may be very boring for others.
Thanks @Kathar1na for your detailed analyses. I've had this book for many years - you've inspired me to take it off the shelf and read it in more depth.

It's not one that I'd take on a Camino, but as I'm planning to walk the Camino Francés again, I think I'll make notes of things I find interesting and/or that I didn't notice on previous walks. I like how it pays attention to the small places, as well as the cities.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Thanks to all the recommendations, I have now made my first Amazon purchase - a paper copy of this book. It is expected to arrive in a few days! I wanted to have a copy for reference use at home, but if I walk portions of the Camino Frances again, I might even buy the Kindle version.
Good thinking, I also have both versions as the paper copy is much too heavy to carry around!
Invaluable book and thank you @Katharina for your very informative comments.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
This book is my "Ur Text" for the Camino. When I started researching the camino in 1992, I could find NOTHING in English but this book, and some very dusty architectural tomes from the 1920s... and Jack Hitt's somewhat over-the-top book. This was the best possible intro to what became a life-changing discovery. Written with verve and clarity, beautifully researched, and logically laid-out, it was comprehensive but not overwhelming.
The parts people call "outdated" are often the anecdotes of the authors' early Camino journeys, which I find wonderful as I compare today's moving-sidewalk tourist trail with the rusty, dusty backwaters they traveled. It is a historic document itself, a product of its time, even as it talks about times farther back in the past. I think most readers are sophisticated enough to take that on board, and not expect up-to-the-minute data.
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in what made the Camino what it is now.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
This book is my "Ur Text" for the Camino. When I started researching the camino in 1992, I could find NOTHING in English but this book, and some very dusty architectural tomes from the 1920s... and Jack Hitt's somewhat over-the-top book.
Weird. When I go back to my copy, it is copyright 2000 and describes itself as a first edition, rather than a revised or updated edition. The acknowledgements and preface make no mention of earlier editions. I wonder when it first came out and how many editions there have been.

The English language guide I have that would have been available in 1992 is The Pilgrim Route to Compostela in Search of St. James: A Practical Guide for Pilgrims and Walkers in Spain published bt Robertson McCarta. Far more useful for research than Jack Hitt's book and dusty architectural tomes from the 20s but not in the same league as Gitlitz and Davidson's opus.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Weird. When I go back to my copy, it is copyright 2000 and describes itself as a first edition, rather than a revised or updated edition.
My copy also says "©Copyright 2000". I don't know whether there are any older editions.

For those who don't have the book: Gitlitz/Davidson write that they walked in 1974, 1979, 1987, 1993 and 1996 to Compostela, accompanying groups of college student-pilgrims on academic medieval studies programs.

I distinctly remember one passage where they refer to a recent change. They describe the items on display in the small museum in Roncesvalles where they mention Roland's maces. Quote: We saw them, hefted them, and swung them around our heads in 1974. Pilgrims like Arnold von Harff and Domenico Laffi also reported seeing the maces and [horn]. On our most recent visit in 1998 [sic] they were no longer on display, and no one could tell us where they had been stashed.

So, indeed, the book provides not only insights into the distant past but also glimpses of the not so distant past. BTW, von Harff and Laffi are medieval pilgrims who are known for their written accounts of their pilgrimages to Compostela.
 

C clearly

Moderator
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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
My copy has arrived, and I've started to browse. I don't buy many books, usually relying on the library, so it is a special pleasure to have a copy that I can take my time with. It appears to be very well organized, although it is complex, and I need to figure out how best to appreciate it.

It is not a book that you want to be using in the Galician drizzle, since the paper is rather rough newsprint. However, that paper is better for making penciled notes, and it is easier to flip through, than stiffer polished paper would be.

In the Introduction, I thought it was fun to read that "From earliest times, some pilgrims seem to have been compelled to chronicle their own personal experiences: not a guidebook for you, but a memoir about me."
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Since I am now reading both this Guide and the next Book Club choice, which is a memoir of a walk from SJPP to Santiago, maybe I will be able to follow along Kevin Cobb's stages while looking things up in Gitlitz and Davidson. (But I don't want to start any discussion of Cobb's book on this thread. It's just an idea for reading the two books at once.)
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I’m sat here with my copy also. In my Spanish language class we all take it in turns to do a short illustrated talk, so I’m doing highlights of the cathedral in Santiago and there’s more than enough detail in here.

Whilst the content is first rate, Cclearly is quite right: the paper is rubbish. Also the font is tiny and the paragraph spacing poor.
 
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FamPed

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
There are many different Pilgrim Routes and Caminos in life.
Weird. When I go back to my copy, it is copyright 2000 and describes itself as a first edition, rather than a revised or updated edition. The acknowledgements and preface make no mention of earlier editions. I wonder when it first came out and how many editions there have been.
This is the same as in my copy.

This book is a treasure, but you don't read it on a coffee brake, or even in a week. I am grateful of the hard work of the writers. I use it for leasure reading and as a sort of lexicon. It is a good source for facts, history and culture.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
This is just the right book for me at the perfect time ! I read it slowly and use a fluo pen to highlight some lines in order to remember the essential
So many memories come back! And at the same time it is putting together so
Many details and bits and pieces that I learned from other sources through the years
. It opens so much more links about history arquitecture , significance of the Camino through the ages , legends, i , and motivates me to make some personal research on the net concerning topics that catch my attention more than others
. I found some conferences on you tube by a french spécialist of the Camino
Adeline Ricquoi from
La Sorbonne which complete perfectly thebook, for french speakers I recommend ‘ Le chemin de Compostelle dans le temps et l espace.
By the way , I am now reading the chapter on Santo Domingo de la Calzada and there is no mention about the beautiful clock in the tower, I wonder why !
Il will surely make my second french Camino (the post Covid one !)more complet e
I also appreciate a lot all the personal anecdotes which come always nicely on purpose with a good reason
Really thanks for this excellent choice !
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
David Whitson's podcasts are linked on the forum. Here's where Ivar introduced him, and Episode 23 in particular.

To listen to that episode, go to this link on Soundcloud and scroll down to find Episode 23 - the Pioneers.
Thanks so much for the link on SoundCloud!The testimony about their first trip in 1974 with 7 students is priceless tome ( so more so because at that time I was a student in the Complutense University in Madrid, following the first ‘ Curso para estranjeros’ i was 18 and
I wish I had meet and join them!!!!

Doyou know if any of the students who were part of the team may be wrote something about their experience with David and Linda ??
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Year of past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
I just received the Gitlitz and Davidson Guide, along with about 10 other Camino books... the Book Club post was the most expensive yet for me on the Forum :)... and it seems to be a very thorough reference book. Not sure I'll plow through it cover to cover, but it will be invaluable. I have been putting together a list of Templar sites to visit on my next CF pilgrimage, where I can have my adolescent Order of DeMolay membership certificate stamped. The Guide has precise entries that I am cross referencing to Brierly. Great find! Thank you for the selection.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
David Whitson's podcasts are linked on the forum. Here's where Ivar introduced him, and Episode 23 in particular.

To listen to that episode, go to this link on Soundcloud and scroll down to find Episode 23 - the Pioneers.
I posted that link a week ago, but only listened to the podcast today. It was very interesting and worth reading, as background about the authors and the book.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
Have just begun to read the book, but have been skipping around to see what it says about various points I found interesting. I bought the Kindle version, and will definitely carry this with me on my next Camino. On the previous two Caminos (CF and CP), I carried my iPad (an extra bunch of ounces) so I could avoid carrying books. This book will join the others in my portable e-library. So far, it is delightful reading.
This book is what decided me to buy a kindle last week!! Can’t wait to walk again with my 100grs huge library making me good company!
 

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