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The Construction of National Identity in the Mexican Travel Chronicle, 1843-1893

Thea Pitman

The above epigraph, written in 1882 by the Mexican Liberal statesman, pedagogue and novelist Ignacio Manuel Altamirano as an introduction to the Mexican writer Luis Malanco’s Viaje a Oriente (Altamirano 1988: 215, 229–30), displays the widely-held opinion that Mexicans do not produce travel writing of their own. Altamirano’s comments on the lack of Mexican travel literature have since been quoted and annotated on a number of occasions: by Felipe Teixidor in 1939 in the prologue to the first edition of his anthology of Mexican travel writing at home and abroad, Viajeros mexicanos: siglos XIX y XX (1982: 3–4); by Francisco López Cámara in his book Los viajes de Guillermo Prieto: estudio introductorio (1994: 13–14); and again by Emmanuel Carballo in the introduction to his anthology of Mexican travel writing concerning travel in the United States, ¿Qué país es éste?: los Estados Unidos y los gringos vistos por escritores mexicanos de los siglos XIX y XX (1996: 11–12). Ironically, all three critics uphold (with nuances) Altamirano’s declarations on the lack of Mexican travel writing.

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