Costa Rica en el siglo XIX became a scarce book shortly after its publication in 1929 when a fire in a San José storehouse destroyed most of that edition. Yet the book has remained the most important single source for the social history of Costa Rica in the 1800s, making this new printing by Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana particularly welcome.
In this anthology the late Ricardo Fernández Guardia, dean of Costa Rican historians, brought together and translated descriptions of Costa Rica written by nine foreign travelers between 1825 and 1863. These range from such well-known and available works as those of John Lloyd Stephens, Ephraim G. Squier, Robert G. Dunlop, and Anthony Trollope, to obscure pamphlets and articles such as John Hale’s Six Months’ Residence and Travels in Central America (1826), and Thomas Francis Meagher’s “Holidays in Costa Rica,” from New Monthly Magazine (1859-1860). Complementing the views of these Anglo-Saxon observers are accounts by a Chilean diplomat, Francisco Solano Astaburuaga; a German adventurer, Friedrich Wilhelm Marr; and the French canal entrepreneur, Felix Belly. The translations of these accounts by Fernández Guardia, who was fluent in French and English, have not become dated and his occasional annotations remain useful.
This second volume in EDUCA’s Colección Viajeros is handsomely illustrated and printed. A photo offset process, however, would have eliminated errors in reproduction and an index would have considerably enhanced the utility of the book.