Travel Writing as a Genre

Facts, Fictions and the Invention of a Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Europe

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Francis Bacon’s endorsement of travel for the sake of the universal light of knowledge, in his posthumous scientific utopia New Atlantis (expressing his personal aspiration for the foundation of a scientific institution), identifies well the strategic place that travel literature had come to occupy in the culture of early seventeenth-century Europe. Travel literature is certainly not a unique European creation, but its remarkable development throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was crucial in the formation of a specifically Western discourse on human societies, one increasingly organised around a vision of natural and historical diversity but also tied inextricably to universalist assumptions and aspirations.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

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