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Travel Writers and Traveling Writers in Australasia

Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity

Helen Bones

Keywords: Australia; authenticity; colonial mobilities; New Zealand; Tasman world; travel fiction; travel writing

This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.

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