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Pilgrims and traders, soldiers and refugees, scientists and artists, alpinists and invalids: Switzerland has enticed them for more than two millennia. They have loved it and hated it, cursed it and sung its praises; they have made war and made love, reported on its food and its religion, its peaks and its poverty, its dances and its prisons.
In 20 thematic chapters, "O Switzerland!" evokes a complex, ever-surprising nation in the words of over 200 travelers--from Napoleon to Nietzsche, Petrarch to Prince, Mary Shelley to Mark Twain. With his deft narration and wry humor, compiler Ashley Curtis leads the reader over the mountains and through the centuries, highlighting connections and disparities by turns ironic, hilarious, and sublime.
Mark Twain on bad beer, Mary Shelley on fisticuffs, Alexandre Dumas on cannibalism, Rilke on designer soaps, Madame de St el on cretinism, Byron on incest, Montaigne on dirty linen, Felix Mendelssohn on flood damage, Leo Tolstoy on desire, James Baldwin on nightmares, George Sand on invisible virgins, J.R.R. Tolkein on sleeping in the rough, Henry James on knitting, Charles Dickens on human dust, Goethe on footbaths, Pope Pius XI on chocolate and kirsch, Nathaniel Hawthorne on hangings, Joseph Addison on witchcraft, Samuel Butler on cherrypicking, Zelda Fitzgerald on teacups, Hans Arp on Dada, Friedrich Nietzsche on raw eggs, John Ruskin on soaped poles, Poggio Bracciolini on the garden of pleasure, Voltaire on gardening, Lenin on armed revolution, Gertrude Bell on rock climbing, D.H. Lawrence on throwing sticks, and much, much more: here is Switzerland as you have never seen it before.
Ashley Curtis was born in California in 1959 and became a Swiss citizen in 2013. He is the author of Irrtum und Verlust and the upcoming books Why do the Swiss Have Such Great Sex? and Double, Double. From 2009 to 2014 he was Co-Director of the Ecole d'Humanit in Hasliberg in the Bernese Oberland.