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Report 136: Edinburgh in Two

By Alice Twain from Italy, Summer 2003

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Page 5 of 10: Chapter IV. What we have seen: literary Edinburgh

Being what we are, beside stopping at nearly every bookshop we found on our way, we also visited or made a few things connected to literature in Edinburgh. Needless say, Edinburgh is a city with a past and a present very rich with writers and poets, and it has devoted to its writers and poets a museum and a city tour. The Writers' Museum is placed in Court by the Royal Mile, hidden from the main crowds. Destopite pour guidebooks sait it was void of any interest and pretty boring, we actually found it nice, if not very informative. Basically, it is just a museum tha collects objects that somehow remind of the three most famous witers of Edinburgh (Burns, Scott and Stevenson). In particular the rooms about Stevenson have a pretti large coletion of photos portraying the writers both in his Scottish youth and during his stay in the Pacific Ocean islands, where he died. The museum is hosted in a XVI century building and most rooms preserve a XIX decor that adds to it. A very nice small room on the top floor hosts a reproduction of an early XIX century typography, with original wooden and lead characters and an old printing machine. Not a museum that will shed a new light on an Edinburgh trip, but certainly a nice place to visit. RATING: *** On the other end, the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour ( is really unforgettable. It is bascally a play staged by two actors playing Mr McBrain and Mr Clart (as in "muck"). with radically different attitudes toward literature: McBrain is a scholar that believes that the witers had somewhat a superior soul to that of common people, Clart basically has fun with literature and likes to look at the witers in the midst of their day-to-day life (and has a liking for their least "ethereal" production). The two start a dialectic duel to which the audience is both witness and judge. The tour strts from the Beehive Inn, in Grassmarket, and, in two hours, drives the audience to four more pubs and a few open-air locations across the city to the New Town. Extremely funny and informative as well. RATING: ***** We also spent half an hour visiting the Scottish National Library. Actually we visited a nice exposition about tourism in Scotland through travel logs of different periods, starting with a XV century diary and ending up with a few early XX century logs with photos. We also took a look around to this very nice building, but didn't actually enter the library.

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