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Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel

Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel

Percy G. Adams
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 382
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    Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel
    Book Description:

    Although much has been written about how the novel relates to the epic, the drama, or autobiography, no one has clearly analyzed the complex connections between prose fiction as it evolved before 1800 and the literature of travel, which by that date had a long and colorful history.

    Percy Adams skilfully portrays the emergence of the novel in the fiction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and traces in rich detail the history of travel literature from its beginnings to the time of James Cook, contemporary of Richardson and Fielding. And since the recit de voyage and the novel were then so international, he deals throughout with all the literatures of Western Europe, one of the book's chief themes being the close literary ties among European nations.

    Equally important in the present study is its demonstration that, just as early travel accounts were often a combination of reporting and fabrication, so prose fiction is not a dichotomy to be divided into the "adult" novel on the one hand and the "childish" romance on the other, but an ambivalence -- the marriage of realism and romanticism.Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novelnot only shows the novel to be amorphous and changing, it also proves impossible the task of defining the recit de voyage with its thousand forms and faces. Often the two types of literature are almost indistinguishable; even beforeDon Quixote, Adams writes, many travel accounts could have been advertised as having "the endless fascination of a wonderfully observed novel."

    This study by Percy Adams will both modify opinions about the novel and its history and provide an excellent introduction to the travel account, a form of literature too little known to students of belles lettres.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6198-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Amorphous, Prodigious, Evolving Novel – Now and Then
    (pp. 1-37)

    In the fifth chapter of Joyce’sPortrait of the Artist as a Young Man,Stephen Dedalus, going as far back as Aristotle and the Socrates of theRepublic,and with help from Hegel and Schelling, divides literature into three “forms”—the lyrical, the epical, and the dramatic—an ancient tripartite division antedating the great nineteenth- and twentieth-century works of prose fiction that have so conditioned our search for an aesthetic of the “novel.” But that Stephen’s creator did not exclude the novel from membership in his triumvirate and expected it to partake of the nature of each of his “forms”...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Travel Literature before 1800 – Its History, Its Types, Its Influence
    (pp. 38-80)

    Like the epic, like history, like the novel, the literature of travel has evolved through the centuries. Like them it has existed since the beginnings of oral and written literature. As with them some of its authors have been bad, others have delighted and informed their readers, and many, from the earliest times, have been popular, influential, even brilliant. As with other forms of literature its quantity and nature have varied because of political, religious, economic, and other social and human factors. And like them it includes countless subtypes that continually approach each other, separate, join, overlap, and consistently defy...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Truth-Lie Dichotomy
    (pp. 81-102)

    Although much has been written about the artist as deceiver, as liar, much is left to be written, and that in spite of one recent American’s hope that Continental Europeans will stop belaboring the subject since “English and American readers and critics [have] learned with their mother’s milk that art is prevarication.”² As a matter of fact, English-speaking writers seem more concerned with art as prevarication than are Europeans. Even as the hope was being uttered (1977), for example, Richard Kamber was attempting as a philosopher to combine—or separate—“Liars, Poets, and Philosophers,” and within the decade William Nelson...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Realism and Romanticism: Local Color and Exoticism
    (pp. 103-147)

    One of the best examples of ontological vertigo out of the early eighteenth century demonstrates how the novelist’s imagination can create so well that his creation becomes reality for other people. In 1744 the abbé Prévost, after writing a number of his best novels, includingManon Lescaut,and after living in England and reading dozens of travel books, published his twovolumeVoyages du capitaine Lade,which, the title page claimed, was “Traduit de l’anglois.” TheJournal de Trévouximmediately praised the new book, and Prévost himself referred to it as an authority when in the twelfth volume of his huge...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Structure: The Hero and His Journey
    (pp. 148-160)

    In a key passage inBiographia LiterariaColeridge, indebted most to Schelling, describes imagination in one way as “the balance of opposite or discordant qualities”;² and by now it is obvious that much of fiction results from, or is molded by, this tension between two extremes, two modes of man’s mind, the realistic and the romantic, and that the same tension in great measure shapes therécit de voyage.But the architects of the many houses of fiction are related to those of travel literature by more than concern with a common tension: The structural principles of their two forms...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Structure: The Narrator
    (pp. 161-181)

    Along the way that leads to the discovery of the close relationship between the hero who journeys in fiction and the protagonist of travel literature, one cannot avoid recognizing other close structural similarities in the two forms. All that has here been said about these two heroes, for example, leads to the notion that writers and readers of both fiction and travels are concerned with the problems of the narrator and the narrative method. To test that notion one needs to be reminded again that travel literature is not a simple “genre,” that it is no more easily defined than...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Structure: Action, Character, but Especially Theme
    (pp. 182-212)

    To make certain discoveries about how the hero and the narrator of the novel relate to the hero and the narrator of the travel account is by no means to exhaust the problems of structure when the two forms are considered together. There are, in fact, so many other important similarities that one need only find a suitable way of exploring them.

    One approach is through the Russian formalists and French structuralists, who have been as concerned with narrative plot as with language. A nineteenth-century formalist such as Victor Shklovsky² contrasts the shape of the novel with that of the...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Motifs: The Coach, the Inn
    (pp. 213-229)

    As with any other term in aesthetics “motif” is difficult to employ. If a dictionary simply equates it with “theme,” a critic like Boris Tomashevsky can at great length talk of a major theme as being composed of smaller ones called “motifs,” decide that story is “the sum of the motifs in their causal chronological order,” and conclude that plot is “the sum of the same motifs ordered so as to engage the emotions and develop the theme.”² So often, however, does theme become motif become metaphor, even determine image patterns, that readers confuse these terms, a fact particularly true...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Character Types
    (pp. 230-242)

    No doubt novelists have learned something from biography and autobiography—surely from drama—about selecting and developing characters. In the case of travel literature, we have seen how the narrator-persona, as with the first-person narrator in fiction, reveals his or her own personality and may be judged reliable or unreliable, as the adventurer Pinto, the buccaneer Dampier, and the swashbuckling, intellectual Challe were exposing themselves before Lesage and Defoe let Gil Blas and Crusoe tell their stories. Or, if the travel writer dealt with someone else, we have seen how he developed that person’s character, as Joinville developed Saint Louis...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Language and Style
    (pp. 243-271)

    For therécit de voyage,the subject of language and style is as significant as it is for the study of any other form of literature. As with other forms, in fact, one can approach travel literature primarily from the point of view of style, as American formalists such as Mark Schorer have preferred the stylistic, the technical, approach to fiction rather than, say, a generic approach. Here, as we offer suggestions about the relationship between the language of travel accounts and that of the early novel, we shall argue—contrary to much received opinion—that the language and the...

  14. CHAPTER ELEVEN Conclusion
    (pp. 272-285)

    One of the closest points of contact between the travel account and the early novel is through parody. In 1735 a large book appeared written by G.H. Bougeant that burlesqued the romantic excesses of both the novel (roman) and the travel account. Its title,Voyage merveilleux du Prince Fan-Férédin dans Ia Romancie; contenant Observations Historiques, Géographiques, Physiques, Critiques et Morales,² promises that the structure will be like that of many travel books—for example, John Ray’s fascinatingObservations Topographical, Moral, and Physiological; Made in a journey through . . . the Low Countries(1673). And the promise is carried out:...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 287-348)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 349-368)