Nikolai Gretsch's Travel Letters is a fully translated English edition of a three-volume account published by Nikolai Gretsch (1787–1867) in St. Petersburg in 1839. In the original Russian, Gretsch describes his travels in post-Napoleonic England, France, and Germany in 1837 at the behest of the Russian Empire. His official task was to examine educational systems, but as he travelled, he also noticed the cultural norms in his surroundings, the history of each country, and the personal experiences of the people he met. On his return home, Gretsch assembled his entertaining and often humorous personal observations into the edition that forms the basis for the present translation. His astute observations provide a rich contemporary resource for information about the countries he visited, especially given his status as an outsider. Additionally, as a result of his government position, Gretsch was able to move in social circles that would have been closed to many other people. In England, he once found himself in the same room with Princess (the future Queen) Victoria, and in France, he dined with Victor Hugo. Gretsch’s observations offer a treasure-trove of contextual information that will be valuable to anyone interested in cultural interactions during the nineteenth century.
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