A Journey Around My Room was written in 1790 by a young French officer named Xavier de Maistre, who had found himself in some trouble over a duel (illegal) and was sentenced to house arrest. (I read it in a translation by Andrew Brown). In the centuries before ankle-monitoring bracelets and the like, the authorities relied on the honor of young noblemen to fulfill their sentences after they had misbehaved. De Maistre, then 27, was a man of honor and did, indeed, stay inside his Turin room for the full 42 days the court had ordered. With nothing else to do, he wrote a guidebook to his room, visiting over the course of those weeks various bits of furniture, paintings, his bookshelf, letters he’d kept, and his own memory of a charming and slightly rakish life—albeit one studded with war and loss as well.
De Maistre makes a case for traveling around his room as the truest kind of travel—and also the most democratic type of travel that has or will ever exist:
The pleasure you find in traveling around your room is safe from the restless jealousy of men; it is independent of the fickleness of fortune. After all, is there any person so unhappy, so abandoned, that he doesn’t have a little den into which he can withdraw and hide away from everyone? Nothing more elaborate is needed for the journey.