ABSTRACT

§ in Pictures from Italy (1846), noted author Charles Dickens commented: ‘There is, probably, not a famous Picture or Statue in all Italy, but could be easily buried under a mountain of printed paper devoted to dissertations on it.’ Against the all-encompassing descriptions he knew from guidebooks and history texts, Dickens claimed that his book was ‘a series of faint recollections – mere shadows in the water – of places to which the imaginations of most people are attracted’. The writer’s ‘recollections’ had this virtue: they were ‘written on the spot … penned in the fullness of the subject, and with the liveliest impressions of novelty and freshness’. 1 They were not comprehensive or scholarly, but spontaneous.