Imagine cozying up with a copy of Joyce’s
Dubliners in the heart of Dublin. Or finding yourself in the very same hotel on the French Riviera as the one Fitzgerald mentions in
Tender Is the Night. These kinds of literary experiences are the goal behind Politics & Prose Travel, a new
travel program to be launched in October by one of Washington’s great independent bookstores.
“People think of the store as a community center. It seemed like a natural venture for the store to take that sense of community
on the road,” says
Susan Coll, the programs director at Politics & Prose.
In an effort to merge the community’s love of books with
travel, each trip is led by a literary expert who will guide 30
to various literary sites, while also hosting discussions based
around a specially curated reading list.
The program’s first scheduled trip heads to Ireland, with two nights in Galway and four in Dublin led by Folger board president
Gigi Bradford. The itinerary includes stops at
the Dublin Writer’s Museum, the James Joyce Museum, and the birthplace
of George Bernard
Shaw, along with a walking tour of famous literary sites. But
the trip isn’t entirely book-focused–it coincides with the
Dublin Theater Festival to offer other opportunities for the
participants to soak up the arts and culture of the city.
The second scheduled vacation goes to France, and includes visits to Nice, Antibes, and Juan Les Pins as well as a Left Bank
tour led by
Heather Hartley, the Paris editor of the literary journal
Tin House. Sightseers will get to traverse the streets where Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound lived, and visit Père
Lachaise cemetery, where Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas, and Marcel Proust are buried.
Although the trips aren’t exactly budget (the two
scheduled tours currently cost between $4,000 and $6,000 per person),
is banking on customers being drawn to the trips’ one-off
experiences, such as a private poetry reading with award-winning
Paula Meehan, or an exchange of ideas with Scottish writer and historian
William Dalrymple. With independent bookstores facing more and more challenges thanks to the rise of Internet-based retailers, it could prove
to be a winning venture for the much-loved Cleveland Park institution.
For more information on Politics & Prose Travel, visit the company’s website.