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Journeys from Scandinavia

Journeys from Scandinavia: Travelogues of Africa, Asia, and South America, 1840—2000

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Journeys from Scandinavia
    Book Description:

    Focusing on Danish and Norwegian travelogues, Elisabeth Oxfeldt traces the evolution of Scandinavian travel writing over two centuries. A long-overdue examination of travel literature produced by some of Denmark and Norway’s greatest writers, Journeys from Scandinavia unpacks the unstable constructions of Scandinavian cultural and national identity and, in doing so, complicates the common assumption of a homogeneous, hegemonic Scandinavia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7346-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    The Danish-German explorer Carsten Niebuhr’sReisebeschreibung nach Arabien und andern umliegenden Ländern(Travel Depiction from Arabia and Other Surrounding Countries, 1774) includes a copper etching by Georg Wilhelm Baurenfeind of seminude Egyptian women dancing in the sand to the sound of strings and cymbals.¹ The composition consists of seven figures, including two women dancing in the middle and two similar female figures in the lower left corner whose turn to dance it might be next. The lower right corner shows an entirely veiled woman smoking a long pipe, and in the right top corner are two musicians, including the etching’s...

  4. Romantic Journeys to the Orient
    (pp. 3-5)

    When it comes to the genealogy of Western travel and travelogues, literary scholars tend to regard Homer’sOdysseyand mediaeval pilgrimages as prototypical examples.¹ Marco Polo’s journey to China in the 1200s marks a late-medieval budding interest in foreign ways of life, while Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America in 1492 constitutes yet another turning point, reflecting both a new type of travel writing and a new type of scientific endeavor, the goal of which was the exploration and mapping of the world (Hulme and Youngs, 3). In the seventeenth century, Grand Tour travelers emerged as a group of young men...

  5. ONE Discovering His Inner Turk: Hans Christian Andersen’s Commodification of the Exotic
    (pp. 6-30)

    Andersen absorbed like a sponge. His entire oeuvre—from fairy tales to drama to travel accounts—reflects his uncanny ability to soak up the mental, material, and cultural preoccupations of his era. Even in the shortest of depictions, one has the sense that Andersen squeezes his sponge and lets out an entire epoch’s cultural and aesthetic issues—never reducing their complexity, but leaving opposite standpoints unresolved and ending his accounts on an ambivalent note. Søren Kierkegaard may well have launched his writing career by expressing his contempt for Andersen’s lack of a coherent worldview, but readers today, emphasizing his premodernist...

  6. TWO The Hyphenated Woman: Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann’s Juggling Categories of Gender, Nation, and Ethnicity
    (pp. 31-57)

    In 1869–70 and 1874–75, the painter Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann embarked on two journeys to the Orient with Cairo and Constantinople serving as exotic end points. She went to collect motifs appropriate to contemporary taste and its penchant for ethnographic, national, and exotic material. Her paintings had already won great acclaim, and at the Paris Exposition in 1867, Jerichau-Baumann was the best-represented Danish artist. Later in life, she wrote several memoirs of which her account of her Oriental journeys,Brogede Reisebilleder(Colorful Travel Pictures, 1881), was her last publication.¹ It was published the year she died, and it is the...

  7. THREE The Ironic Traveler: Danger and Identity in Knut Hamsun’s Oriental Travelogues
    (pp. 58-78)

    In terms of literary history, the travelogue has, as indicated in the introduction, been regarded as a precursor to the novel. Meanwhile in terms of the individual author’s biography, traveling is often viewed as a precondition for his writing activity. In the case of Knut Hamsun, his novels—fromSult(Hunger,1890) and onward—are tied to travel literature, both thematically by focusing on the traveler and generically by constantly crossing the boundaries between fact and fiction as the lives of the hero, the narrator, and the author slip into one another. The travelogue is, as we have seen, a...

  8. Modern Primitive Travel
    (pp. 81-86)

    In contrast to the nondeveloping subject of the late-romanticist travelogues, the postromanticist, modern twentieth-century literary travelogues portray a subject in search of self-understanding. His journey is structured as a quest in the sense that it focuses on one particular object rather than an accumulation of impressions. The ultimate aim is greater insight into human nature in general and into one’s Self in particular. The cultural Other no longer serves merely as exoticist material to stimulate curiosity and wonder at home, but as a source to understanding human evolution, the world, and the European’s place within it. As the travelers seek...

  9. FOUR Savage Science: Johannes V. Jensen in the Malay Jungle
    (pp. 87-105)

    Johannes V. Jensen is generally considered Denmark’s foremost author from the first half of the twentieth century.¹ This status was confirmed in 1944 when he received the Nobel Prize in literature and once again at the end of the century, whenKongens Fald(The Fall of the King, written in 1900–1901) was voted the Danish novel of the twentieth century by the readers ofPolitiken. Yet, like Knut Hamsun, Jensen is a problematic national hero whose racist and imperialist views can at best be excused as products of their time.²

    When Jensen set out in 1902 on what would...

  10. FIVE Humor, Gender, and Nationality: Isak Dinesen’s Encounter with Africa
    (pp. 106-142)

    Isak Dinesen’sOut of Africa(1937) is exceptional. It is exceptionally popular and well known—thanks especially to Sydney Pollack’s 1985 film adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford; it is exceptionally commented on and fought over within academia—by feminists and postcolonialists in particular; it is exceptionally well written, and is the most aesthetically recognized classic of those discussed in this book. It furthermore forms a generalexceptionwithin this study of Danish and Norwegian travelogues. Generically it is less of a travelogue than those of Andersen, Baumann, Hamsun, and Jensen, since Dinesen did not travel about, but rather...

  11. SIX The Traveler and the Tourist: Axel Jensen’s Desperate Frolic in the Sahara
    (pp. 143-170)

    Axel Jensen (1932–2003) traveled extensively and spent about half his life living abroad.¹ He took on jobs ranging from sausage making to coordinating poetry festivals. In his youth, he experimented with LSD cures and swapped girlfriends with Leonard Cohen (Cohen’s “Goodbye Marianne” is about the couples’ interrelationships). Eventually, Jensen converted to Hinduism and married the Indian woman Pratibha with whom he shared the rest of his life, living for years on a houseboat in Stockholm harbor.² In his older age, he ended up surviving a surprising number of years paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, yet he continued to write...

  12. Late and Postmodern Travel
    (pp. 173-175)

    InImperial Eyes,Mary Louise Pratt analyzes travel writing from 1750 to 1980, with the early cutoff excluding the topic of this last part: travelogues written since the early 1980s. Pratt finishes her narrative trajectory with Joan Didion’sSalvador(1983), the brevity of which alone “suggests a dead end to all of this” (Pratt, 225). Thus, Pratt leaves her reader with the impression that travel writing, like her own book, has arrived at a logical end point: a dismantling of the genre. It then remains Pratt’s last tentative hope that the dominated andresistanthistorical subject will finally claim authority...

  13. SEVEN From the Personal to the Universal—and Back: Carsten Jensen around the World
    (pp. 176-203)

    Carsten Jensen is a master at combining the particular with the universal. When he found himself divorced in the mid-1990s, he turned his quest for a new personal identity into a global quest. In nine months he “did” the world, returned home, and wroteJeg har set verden begynde(I Have Seen the World Begin,1996/2000), sharing with his readers his newfound understanding of himself and the world in which he lived.Jeg har set verden begyndecovers Jensen’s journey from Russia to the Far East. It was quickly followed by a second volume covering his travels through the Pacific...

  14. EIGHT Futile Journeys: Parody, Postmodernism, and Postnationalism in Erlend Loe’s Traveling
    (pp. 204-232)

    Erlend Loe, who was born in 1969, is probably Norway’s most popular contemporary author. He debuted withTatt av kvinnen(1993), which was followed byNaiv: Super(1996). With his second novel, Loe was written into Norwegian literary history as the voice of a new generation, employing neonaivism not only as a literary strategy but also as a late-modern survival strategy.¹ Loe’s third novel,L(1999), is an explicit parody on Thor Heyerdahl’sKon-Tiki ekspedisjonen(1948).² It depicts the autobiographical protagonist, Erlend, as he sets out to put Norway on the map. First he develops a theory about how the Polynesian...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 233-242)

    In 2004 Horace Engdahl, secretary of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, commented on the contemporary fascination with travel literature:

    A new type of text has emerged that is no longer fictional literature, but that employs a literary linguistic form. The enormously increased importance of travel literature in recent years—among others by authors like the postcolonialist Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul—is an example of this. But one also finds the travelogue among a large variety of traveling journalistic authors.¹

    Travel literature is no longer just an object of popular reading but also an object...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 243-286)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 287-294)
  18. Index
    (pp. 295-302)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)