Book Description

Observations from a Motorcar's Left Seat of an
American Landscape Undergoing a Transformation

An Incident of Travel
by Arthur Jerome Eddy

What must it have been like to make a tour along unpaved roads, through several states, in a cantankerous motorcar circa 1900? Writing under the self-deprecating pseudonym "Chauffeur", Arthur Jerome Eddy gives us in An Incident of Travel a remarkable account of precisely that experience. Traveling no less than 2000 miles in a very early type of "horseless carriage", he explores country byways, as well as philosophy, religion, politics and anything else that stimulates his thinking on the arduous journey through the American landscape of the early 20th century. An Incident of Travel brings back, in pleasing tones, a nearly forgotten age, when American society was slow, but its people not slow-witted. This is America in transition, a culture only beginning to grasp the great changes that would erupt onto society's stage. However, Eddy's book is more than a snapshot of old days, because the motorcar was a revolutionary innovation. The automobile became a type of catalyst for conversation: people reacted to it as a provocative symbol of progress and industrialism. Their comments about "the machine" often revealed their true feelings about the modern age. One of the most interesting aspects of the journey, was the constant attention Eddy's car required. Nearly every day he had to submit his "machine" to a careful tuning, fitting, or replacement of parts. Yet despite all the work and frustration, one feels Eddy possessed a real affection for the strange new contraption. An Incident of Travel is a uniquely informative and entertaining appraisal of American life.

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