Literary Precedents for A Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson
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A Walk in the Woods, along with Bryson's other accounts of his wanderings, fit into one of the oldest and most popular genres of American literature: the travel narrative.

Bryson's wry yet incisive look at America via its longest walk is somewhat different from narratives like Washington Irving's The Sketch Book (1820) and Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad (1869). Both of these titles (the latter of which was Twain's best selling working during his lifetime) relate the author's experience in Europe. Until quite recently, the cost of traveling to the old country made it prohibitively expensive for most Americans to visit Europe. It was something of a commonplace that great authors would write travel books. Even so eminent a novelist as Nathaniel Hawthorne filled much of his last novel, The Marble Faun (1860), with descriptions of the Italian landscape as a means of appealing to a larger readership. These books...

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This section contains 349 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Walk in the Woods Study Guide
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