An Absorbing Travel Account: Review of Like a Sponge Thrown into Water: Francis Lieber's European Travel journal of 7844-7845. A Lively Tour Through England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Bohemia with Observations on Politics, the Visual and Performing Arts, Economics, Religion, Penology, Technology, History, Literature, Social Customs, Travel, Geography, Jurisprudence, Linguistics, Personalities, and Numerous Other Matters by One of the Nineteenth-Century's Most Influential Minds. Transcribed from the Autograph Manuscript Preserved in the Collections of the South Carolina Library at the University of South Carolina. Edited with an introduction and commentary by Charles R. Mack and Ilona S. Mack.
Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 24, Number 3, September 2002.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
Motivated by his interest in Francis Lieber's importance in the hIstory of the University of South Carolina, as well as Lieber's reflections on European works of art, Charles R. Mack, professor of Art History at South Carolina, with his wife Ilona S. Mack, has edited from manuscript the journal Lieber kept for much of his European "sabbatical" of 1844-45. The extended title provided by the editors advances their views of the significance of Lieber's journal and implies a potential readership for their text. Indeed, the editorial claim that Lieber was "one of the nineteenth-century's most influential minds" is bold. More realistic is their fear expressed in the first paragraph of the Preface (xiii) that, "with the passing of the years, memory of his many accomplishments (and their lasting impact) has begun to fade." (A brief and wholly unscientific poll of several colleagues in relevant fields disclosed no recognition of his name; only one of his books, On Civil Liberty and Self Government from 1853, is still available through a special-order service.)