Sir Henry Holland, one of Victorian London's most celebrated physicians and most tireless travellers, visited Iceland twice - in 1810, as a member of Sir George Mackenzie's party of young Edinburgh scientists, and again, astonishingly, in 1871, his fascination with the bleak and distant land undimmed by extreme old age. Holland's intoxication with the prospect of Iceland was shared by many intellectuals and whiggish armchair primitives of his time. To some, Iceland was the home of unrivalled medieval literary achievement; to others, touched by European romanticism, the sublimities of Iceland offered an irresistible alternative to the familiar grandeurs of southern Europe; to others still, born in the heroic age of geological science, Iceland's centuries of volcanic and geothermal upheaval had deposited a bewildering mineralogical legacy for examination and analysis. Henry Holland shared all these Icelandophile enthusiasms, and his journal, appearing now in its first English edition, gives vivid expression to them. As well as a fastidious scientific record, the Holland journal depicts a turbulent society gripped by grievous commercial privation resulting from the Napoleonic wars. It also represents a previously unrecognised source for Mackenzie's celebrated published account of the expedition: a work in which Holland was a frustrated and indignant collaborator. Not least, the journal reveals something of the sensibility as well as the sense of the British 'Enlightenment' mind.
|Publication date:||31st January 1999|
|Publisher:||Hakluyt Society an imprint of Taylor & Francis Ltd|
|Categories:||Biography: general, Geographical discovery & exploration,|
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