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Writing Travel

Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey

  • Book Info
    Writing Travel
    Book Description:

    Writing Travelassembles a superb collection of essays that demonstrate how travel attempts to reconfigure the world and, in so doing, to become a metaphor for imagination, subjectivity, and representation itself.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8967-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction

    • 1 Writing Travel
      (pp. 3-22)

      It is often said that travellers have stories to tell. Critics repeatedly point out how – from Herodotus to Odysseus to Marco Polo – travellers have returned home and started talking: spinning elaborate tales about their adventures, speaking of monsters, beauties, treasures, and harrowing escapes from danger.¹ Storytelling perhaps even began with travel. One of the world’s earliest extant tales, from Egypt’s Twelfth Dynasty, describes a sailor shipwrecked on a marvellous island.² Biblical and classical narrations – Gilgamesh, Exodus, the banishment of Cain, theAeneid, theOdyssey– all tell of journeys. In Homeric Greece, storytelling was the traveller’s duty: Odysseus received hospitality (Xenía)...

  5. Theoretical Overture

    • 2 Chrono-Types: Notes on Forms of Time in the Travelogue
      (pp. 25-54)

      Travel is a spatio-temporalexperience since spaceandtime are the fundamental – in Kantian terms, ‘apriorical’ – categories through which we always perceive, make sense of, and act in reality. Actually, during travel one often tends to be more aware than in everyday life of a day-by-day organization and progress; thus, one has to observe a precise scheduling by hours and minutes. Many travellers keep daily records in the form of logs and journals, and more formal travel writing sometimes retains such a journal structure, with precise dating for the individual sections – for example, James Boswell’sThe Journal of a Tour...

  6. Enlightenment to Modernism

    • 3 On Site: Pilgrimage and Authorship in Goethe’s ‘Third Pilgrimage’ and Italian Journey
      (pp. 57-78)

      The relation between pilgrim and travel literatures is often framed in terms of continuities – as considerations of how the modern travel guide emerges from the medieval Christianitinerarium, how the characteristic hybridity of pilgrim writings anticipates the notoriously open rubric of ‘travel writing,’ how deep the resemblance between pilgrim testimonials and autobiographical travelogues runs.¹ Whether analysed as direct influence or a more loosely perceived affinity, such continuities in the generic and narrative conventions of these two literary traditions are generally seen as reflecting a process of secularization. The degree to which a travel narrative depicts the exotica of a place...

    • 4 ‘Trouver du nouveau?’ Baudelaire’s Voyages
      (pp. 79-97)

      In 1988, Gilbert Trigano, the founder of Club Med and a man whose understanding of the possibilities of travel and tourism has been tested in the marketplace, published an anthology,Les plus beaux poèmes du voyage. One hundred thirty-five poets from twenty-eight countries appear in alphabetical order, except for Charles Baudelaire, who is given more space than any other and whom Trigano places first, deeming him the ‘indispensable poet of travel.’² But Baudelaire was an extraordinarily reluctant traveller. His only voyage was taken under duress and broken off halfway. In 1841, when the young reprobate, who had been suspended from...

    • 5 Seafaring Jews, World History, and the Zionist Imaginary
      (pp. 98-122)

      Judging by their absence in Helmut Pemsel’s recently publishedWeltgeschichte der Seefahrt(World History of Seafaring), a monumental seven-volume study of seafaring from antiquity to the present, Jews – as Ben-Gurion’s statement seems to also attest – have played little or no part in the history of seafaring.⁴ Of the 400 or so most important mariners, the greatest number come from England (107), followed by Germany (45), the United States (38), Italy and the Holy Roman Empire (35), and France (35). The formerly great colonial powers of Spain, Greece, and the Netherlands emerge with less than 20 each, followed by a spattering...

    • 6 Ruins Travel: Orphic Journeys through 1940s Germany
      (pp. 123-160)

      When the Nazi Empire finally collapsed, leaving nothing but mass graves, rubble, and ruins across Europe, legions of non-German journalists started travelling through these devastated landscapes. For years, these ruin travellers scrutinized Germany’s rubble landscapes with ‘a foreigner’s gaze,’ searching for explanations for Germany’s ‘physical, moral and political ruin.’³ In their texts, these ‘specialists in perception’ tried to capture things as precisely as possible, making acts of seeing, looking, scrutinizing, and watching central to their writing.⁴ At the heart of the present study are issues dealing with this focus on vision and the (in)visible. In particular, I will explore the...

  7. Postmodernism

    • 7 Walking through Thought: Thomas Bernhard’s Walking and Peter Rosei’s Who Was Edgar Allan?
      (pp. 163-172)

      In the late eighteenth century, the solitary walk of the bourgeois subject displaces the old topos of life as travel and pilgrimage. Walking is no longer goal oriented, as the pilgrim’s progress on the way to salvation, nor is it bound by a social purpose such as the public promenade. Walking becomes an activity as ‘purposeless’ and autonomous as modern art itself. With the literature of sentimentalism and Romanticism, the solitary walker strolling through nature becomes the token figure of self-reflexive subjectivity. Consider, for instance, Karl Philip Moritz’s protagonist Anton Reiser, who, made abject by the misery of his social...

    • 8 Charming the Carnivore: Bruce Chatwin’s Australian Odyssey
      (pp. 173-194)

      Somewhere along the way, the culture of Anglo-American public television acquired the habit of instituting the ‘personal view’ as the product of arduous, individualized travel. Michael Wood’sIn the Footsteps of Alexander the Greatis a fairly recent example, as is Henry Louis Gates’s thoroughly malignedWonders of the African World. As a counter-inspiration to his trek through the cradle of the African slave trade, Gates invokes Kenneth Clark’sCivilization, the series that, for part of 1969, treated my generation to a weekly diet of the very synonyms of culture – Giotto, Chartres, Gregorian chants, Botticelli, Watteau. Remarkable now for its...

    • 9 Touching the Real: Alternative Travel and Landscapes of Fear
      (pp. 195-210)

      ‘An eternity,’ – that is how the Argentine newspaperClaríndescribed in 2004 the temporal limbo in which two international tourists found themselves for thirty-two days while lost in the wooded mountains of Tierra del Fuego, the uttermost end of Patagonia. Guy Gabay, a thirtyone- year-old Israeli, and Michael Frike, a twenty-nine-year-old Austrian, had travelled to the region in search of adventure and close encounters with untamed nature. During a trekking excursion, they lost their way. Unable to retrace their steps back to civilization, they barely managed to survive by staying close to water and eating wild berries. They lost twelve...

    • 10 Virtual Travellers: Cyberspace and Global Networks
      (pp. 211-236)

      Cyberpunk novelist William Gibson’s recent novelPattern Recognitionstarts with a rather lyrical evocation of jet lag as his protagonist, Cayce Pollard, arrives in London after a flight from New York:

      It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option now ... She knows ... hearing the white noise that is London, that [her friend] Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical cord...

  8. Epilogue

    • 11 ‘Tears at the End of the Road’: The Impasse of Travel and the Walls at Angel Island
      (pp. 239-260)

      In the middle of San Francisco Bay there is an island – Angel Island – by far the largest island there. On its shores, nestled in an overgrown ravine opening onto a pebbly beach known as China Cove, stand the dilapidated remains of what once was the primary immigration station for entry into the United States via the Pacific route, the West Coast equivalent, it has often been said, of New York’s Ellis Island Immigration Station.¹ That East Coast point of entry, painstakingly and expensively restored in recent years for modern-day visitors, has become synonymous with patriotic pride and the welcome embrace...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 261-262)
  10. Index
    (pp. 263-276)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)