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The Corpus of London

(Dis)covering the Victorian City

David W. Chapman

Abstract

Visitors to London are often seeking an imaginary city, one defined through literary depictions and pop culture. To (dis)cover Victorian London requires the visitor to disentangle the corporeal, historical, and mythical manifestations of the city. Thus, the corpus of London is both a literary and a physical space with geographical features, architectural styles, and visual references that sometimes form the viewer’s experience and are sometimes formed by the viewer’s expectations. The corpus of London is not only an experience of recognition but also one that leads inevitably to magnification, distortion, disruption, and even erasure of the cultural artifact.

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Coryat’s India and Trajectories of Cultural Mobility

Abin Chakraborty

Abstract

Accounts of early European travelers show ample textual evidences of travelers oscillating between the cultural and religious biases and prejudices that obviously conditioned them and a candid sense of wonder and admiration that directly contradicted inherited stereotypes of one kind or another. In the process such travelogues, letters, and observations not only become sites of ambivalence and hybridity but also testify to processes of “cultural mobility” (Greenblatt et al. 2010) and attendant self-fashioning that did not conform to the racial and imperial constructs generated by the “White Man’s Burden” at a later date. This article examines such issues through an analysis of the descriptions and letters of Thomas Coryat, who wandered across Mughal India between 1612 to 1617. What emerges through his accounts is an interstitial perspective that fosters a vision of cultural mobility without the teleological triumphalism often associated with empire and theology.

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George Johnston’s Tibetan Interlude

Myth and Reality in Shangri-La

Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

Abstract

In 1945 Australian war correspondent and later novelist George Johnston undertook a journey on the Tibetan Plateau with fellow American correspondent James Burke. Johnston later wrote about this adventure in his memoir Journey Through Tomorrow (1947) as part of a wider account of his travels in Asia during the Second World War. This article considers the Tibetan section of his narrative with a focus on the influence of English novelist James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, with its depiction of a Tibetan utopia in the form of the lamasery of Shangri-La. In doing so the article considers Johnston’s text as an example of the challenge faced by travel writers in negotiating the territory between myth and reality in representing the ‘truth’ of their experience, and as a narrative that avoids the worst of the orientalizing traits of many other travelers’ accounts of Tibet.

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Henry Miller Travels in Greece

Leonidas Sotiropoulos and

Abstract

Through an examination of Henry Miller’s account of his journey to Greece in 1939, as expressed in his travel book The Colossus of Maroussi, this article examines the image of this country his writing presents. Miller’s description of people, places, and environment is infused with a mystical, spiritual element, as if something magical emanates from the cultural environment of this country and tints the landscape and its inhabitants, adding an atemporal dreamlike quality. The group of literati Miller befriended during his five-month stay in Greece viewed Greek art, culture, and history in an archetypal way, which blends well with Miller’s approach. This analysis of the enchanted world Miller claims to have met and experienced during his journey could thus possibly acquire further significance through tentatively relating it to the way contemporary Greeks may experience aspects of their culture and their Greekness.

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In the Eyes of Some Britons

Aleppo, an Enlightenment City

Mohammad Sakhnini

Abstract

This article examines the travel accounts of some eighteenth-century British travelers to Aleppo. It shows how these travelers’ identities were steeped in the world of others—in the entanglement with people from different cultures and religions—with no mention recalled in their diaries that Islam and Muslims were their enemies. As this article shows, these Britons posited Aleppo as a multicultural, multireligious city in which Europeans were not only men of riches and influence but also free to pursue their cultural and religious practices. This article concludes by emphasizing that British enlightenment practices—toleration, improvement, and freedom—were pursued both within European grand cities such as Paris, Edinburgh, and London as well as in Aleppo.

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Beyond the Glittering Golden Buddha Statues

Difference and Self-transformation through Buddhist Volunteer Tourism in Thailand

Brooke Schedneck

Abstract

Volunteer tourism is becoming an important way to understand and experience culture. In Thailand, one option for volunteers is to teach English to novice monks in Buddhist temple schools. These volunteers choose to live in a Buddhist temple in order to experience difference through the religious atmosphere and interact with Buddhist monks. The aesthetic environment is unique and awe-inspiring to this group. However, through interviews and analysis of travel writing, this article argues that the unexpected also has a role in generating self-transformation. Beyond the golden, glittering Buddha statues are Buddhist novice monks who become not just representatives of Thai culture but particular individuals. Volunteers discuss their own transformation as a result of both the expected difference and unexpected familiarity they encounter within the temple communities where they teach.

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Book Reviews

Brian Yothers, Gillian Dooley, Guy Galazka, Peter Weisensel, Jackie Coon, Magdalena Banaszkiewicz, and David Cashman

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In Memoriam

John Urry, 1946–2016

Bob Jessop

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Landscapes and Races in Early Twentieth-Century Peru

The Travels of José Uriel García and Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa

Rupert J. M. Medd

Abstract

From the 1930s onward, Peru began to acknowledge its own intellectual travel writers who were committed to writing about national geographical and social realities. This can be evidenced by the output during the period of independent travelers and those connected to state-funded institutions such as the Sociedad Geográfica de Lima. The underlying position is that the act of travel and its literature can work against imperialism and, therefore, become expressions of patriotism. Here, the travel narratives of two prominent Peruvian figures are analyzed: José Uriel García from Cusco and Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa from Lima. Together, they provide valuable evidence about two different responses to the modernization of Peru while also representing the nation’s significant sociogeographical divides. The focus is on questions of history, coloniality/modernity, national identity, and natural resources such as water and wood. We hope that this will contribute to literary studies on travel and the environment.

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Pilgrimage Guides to the Holy Land

Past and Present

Yvonne Friedman and Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi

Abstract

Based on pilgrimage diaries (Itineraria), this article investigates the roles of historical and contemporary Holy Land guides, looking at how the historical documents, both descriptive and prescriptive, can be viewed as embodying the seeds of the comprehensive roles assumed by current live pilgrimage guides. Our study charted a shift over the centuries from minimal collaboration among separate guides who fulfilled the functions of pathfinder and mentor to closer collaboration among them. In contemporary Catholic pilgrimages, this process has led to a single priest-guide who combines several functions.