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Language Hierarchies

Visualizing Linguistic Space in Modern Travel Writing

Anjali Pandey

This article focuses on the travelogue of the twentieth century. Deftly using the spaces of city/country to situate language and people Miranda France, in Bad Times in Buenos Aires: A Writer's Adventures in Argen tina (1999), presents a hierarchy of linguistic value and poignancy of place by semantically conflating English, Spanish, and indigenous Latin American languages with a different spatial positioning relative to the Other in the bustle of Buenos Aires. The consequence is the building of a hierarchical edifice—which metaphorically as it literally centers English, and places its speakers atop the city— situates Spanish and its speakers at a street level; and relegates indigenous peoples to the lowest metropolitan reaches—unseen and underground—marginalized to the periphery of her literary geoscape. This conflation of linguistic code with the synecdoche of space introduces another way in which to examine the politics of travel writing in a globally connected, multilingual world.

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What Am I Still Doing Here?

Travel, Travel Writing, and Old Age

Robin Jarvis

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.

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Donald H. Holly Jr.

For most people, travel writing is ethnography. Whereas few will ever read anything written by a professional anthropologist, travel literature is widely read and popular. Consequently, the public has come to trust journalists, travelers, and other writers for accurate information about indigenous peoples, Culture, and other subjects that have long been the purview of anthropologists. In this context, travel writing plays a critical role in how the public imagines and understands the Other. This article surveys common themes and popular representations of that ultimate Other—hunters and gatherers—as penned in twentieth and early twenty-first century travel literature. In particular, the article focuses on the trope of self-discovery, a literary device in which the author’s encounters with foraging peoples—often portrayed as remnants of the original human society—serve as a mirror in which the author reflects on their self, and writ large, modernity.

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The Adventures of Miss Ross

Interventions into, and the Tenacity of, Romantic Travel Writing in Southwest Persia

Barbara Cooke

This article concerns the written life of Dr Elizabeth Ness Macbean Ross (1878–1915). Ross's posthumously published memoir about this time, A Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari Land (1921), challenges the masculine, monomythic stance of her travel-writing forebears Sir Henry Layard and Sir Richard Burton and anticipates contemporary texts in which the encounter between “traveling“ self and “native” other destabilizes, rather than reaffirms, the traveler's sense of identity and authority. The article also briefly examines a set of stories the Times ran on Dr Ross, which attempted to appropriate her for a dominant narrative of the Middle East reliant on a languid orientalism, on the one hand, and tales of derring-do, on the other; a narrative which persists to the present day, and which the forgotten A Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari Land works hard to resist.

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Representation of an Absent Space

Construction of the United States and New York in 1950s and 1960s Czech Travel Writing

Mirna Šolić

Early postwar Czech travel writing was mainly concerned with representations of countries from the newly emerging Soviet Bloc and former European colonies in the developing world. In this way, travel writing played a role in nation building and the creation of new cultural identity. However, following the slow process of political liberalization, the United States became an increasingly visible feature of travel narratives, concomitant with interest and reception of American literature in the second half of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. While focusing on the analysis of space and articulation of the identities of travelers/narrators, this article tracks the re-emergence of the image of the United States in various types of travel narratives in order to depict a trajectory from the representation of a strictly bipolar world in political reportage from the early 1950s, to its subversion in the travel writing of the 1960s.

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“The Song They Sing Is the Song of the Road”

Motoring and the Semantics of Space in Early Twentieth-Century British Travel Writing

Martin Walter

When, in the early twentieth century, British middle-class writers went on a tour in search of their country, travel writing not only saw the re-emergence of the home tour, but also the increasing appearance of the motorcar on British roads. With the travelogue playing the role of a discursive arena in which debates about automobility were visualized, the article argues that, as they went “in search of England,” writers like Henry Vollam Morton and J. B. Priestley not only took part in the ideological framing of motoring as a social practice, but also contributed to a change in the perception of accessing a seemingly remote English countryside. By looking at a number of contemporary British travelogues, the analysis traces the strategies of how the driving subjects staged their surroundings, and follows the authors' changing attitudes toward the cultural habit of traveling: instead of highlighting the seemingly static nature of the meaning of space, the travelogues render motoring a dynamic and procedural spatial practice, thus influencing notions of nature, progress, and tradition.

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Camping in China with the Divine Jane

The Travel Writing of Reginald Farrer

Jeff Mather

Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) was a British writer and gardener who traveled and botanized in the western provinces of China during the early decades of the twentieth century. Farrer is perhaps best known for his contributions to gardening writing and botanical exploration; however, the primary focus of this article is his literary interests, and in particular, the intertexual relationship between his writing and Jane Austen's novels. Although scholarly work has investigated the postcolonial dimensions of Austen's fiction, little attention has been paid to the ways in which Austen's novels literally traveled. This article examines how Austen's fiction provided an unlikely lens for Farrer's view of China's border regions, and investigates both the difficulties and the liberating potential of reading Jane Austen in such an informal imperial context.

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Tracey Reimann-Dawe

Between 1848 and 1914 a wave of German academic explorers traveled to Africa, enticed by the promise of geographical, anthropological and botanical discoveries. These Afrikareisende (African explorers) composed narrative accounts of their journeys, which at the time were the main channel for disseminating their experiences to the public. This article focuses on three works from the first three decades of German exploration of Africa prior to German unification in 1871. The common aim of scientific discovery unified Afrikareisende and their passage through foreign space. An inextricable feature of this scientific ideology is the connection to rational, linear time. This article demonstrates how the perception and relevance of time is employed to transfer knowledge of the Self and Other to a German readership. This knowledge reflects not only the explorers’ experience of their personal identity but also the tentative beginnings of a collective German identity as it is defined in colonial space.

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New Mobilities, Spaces, and Ideas to Market

European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment

Steven D. Spalding

This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.

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Counting Up the Lies

A Self-Reflexive Investigation of Craft and Fictionalization in a Modern Travel Book

Tim Hannigan

Travel writers seldom reveal the degree to which they deploy fictional elements in their notionally nonfictional books, nor do they discuss the precise motivations for and mechanics of fictionalization and fabrication in travel writing. In this article a travel-writing practitioner turned travel-writing scholar analyzes his own work: the thirteen-year-old manuscript of The Ghost Islands, an unpublished travel book about Indonesia. This analysis reveals various patterns of fabrication across what was presented as and intended to be a “true account,” including the craft-driven fabrications necessitated by reordering and amalgamating events, the omissions generated by attempts to overcome belatedness and to express antitouristic sentiments, the fictional elements introduced through the handling of dialogue and translation, and the self-fictionalization impelled by awareness of genre conventions. The article highlights the significance of writerly craft as a key—and largely overlooked—variable in the scholarly analysis of travel-writing texts.