What Am I StIll Doing Here?

Travel, Travel Writing, and Old Age

in Journeys
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  • 1 University of the West of England robin.jarvis@uwe.ac.uk
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Abstract

This article offers preliminary thoughts on travel writing from a gerontological perspective. Gender, race, and sexuality have provided important analytical frames for travel writing studies, but age has yet to function as a topic or point of reference. Through a consideration of five travel books by respected modern authors—Jan Morris, Dervla Murphy, V. S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux, and Colin Thubron—the article asks what motivates travel writers to stay “on the road” into their seventies and beyond, and what the distinctive features of travel narratives written at this life stage might be. The article aims to demonstrate the intrinsic fascination of travel books in which a strong abiding curiosity about the world coexists with an acute—and often melancholy—awareness of the passing of time and personal mortality.

Contributor Notes

Robin Jarvis is Professor of English Literature in the Department of Arts & Cultural Industries, University of the West of England. He is the author of books including Romantic Writing and Pedestrian Travel (Macmillan, 1997) and Romantic Readers and Transatlantic Travel (Ashgate, 2012), and of numerous articles and book chapters on topics in Romanticism and travel writing studies. His current research is focused on English Romanticism in a regional context—specifically on writers associated with the South West. E-mail: robin.jarvis@uwe.ac.uk

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

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