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Haunted Journeys

Haunted Journeys: Desire and Transgression in European Travel Writing

Dennis Porter
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0sp1
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  • Book Info
    Haunted Journeys
    Book Description:

    Focusing on travel journals by writers, navigators, philosophers, scientists, and anthropologists--from the eighteenth-century grand tour to the modern period--Dennis Porter explores how male authors at different historical moments conceptualized and represented the lands they encountered. Efforts to portray unfamiliar peoples and cultures are shown to give rise to rich and complex works, in which individual psychic investments frequently subvert an inherited cultural discourse. In exploring the various uses and pleasures of travel, Porter interprets it as a transgressive activity animated by desire and haunted by different forms of guilt.

    Broad in its historical scope and interdisciplinary in its approach, the book draws on literary theory, psychoanalysis, gender criticism, and the social history of ideas. Texts analyzed include works by Boswell, Diderot, Bougainville, Cook, Stendhal, Darwin, Flaubert, Freud, D. H. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence, Gide, Lvi-Strauss, Barthes, and V. S. Naipaul.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6133-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-22)

    At best that heterogeneous corpus of works I am calling European travel writing has been an effort to overcome cultural distance through a protracted act of understanding. At worst it has been the vehicle for the expression of Eurocentric conceit or racist intolerance. Yet, in either case, one thing is certain. From the narratives of youthful grand tourists or the journals of circumnavigators of the globe in the eighteenth century to the impressionistic sketches of nineteenth-century aesthetes or the field studies of contemporary ethnographers, written accounts of foreign places and their peoples are of interest for an important reason. They...

  5. Part One: Enlightenment Europe and Its Globe

    • Chapter I USES OF THE GRAND TOUR: BOSWELL AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
      (pp. 25-68)

      By the time the young James Boswell undertook his grand tour in the 1760s, the quantity and scope of European travel writing had become a widely attested phenomenon of the age. In the wake of the discovery, exploration, conquest and colonization of the New World in particular, writers from the Renaissance on had spawned a wide variety of literary forms that were centered on travel well beyond the confines of Europe as well as within it. And the New Science of the seventeenth century stimulated a fresh vogue of discovery and speculation that gave rise to further kinds of voyage...

    • Chapter II THE PHILOSOPHE AS TRAVELER: DIDEROT
      (pp. 69-85)

      In his highly personal way Boswell gives an account of the kind of dialogic engagement that may occur in a traveler as he moves through a foreign land and is confronted by various, more or less seductive or disturbing forms of otherness. One finds in the written record of his travels through Europe a conscious effort at self-creation of a kind that Michel Foucault might have acknowledged as in conformity with his modernist ethics. The result in Boswell’s text is that a culturally acquired discourse is at different moments simply reproduced or suddenly disarticulated; the pursuit of things foreign is...

    • Chapter III CIRCUMNAVIGATION: BOUGAINVILLE AND COOK
      (pp. 86-122)

      Since they first began to occur with some frequency in the second half of the eighteenth century, the voyages of circumnavigation of the globe attracted a good deal of interest with an educated European public and spawned an abundant secondary literature. This is not the place to attempt a comprehensive survey of all that one finds there. As I indicated in the Introduction, my purpose is much more modest. It is, first, to focus on the ways in which travel as represented in travel writing was invested with aspirations, hopes, and fantasies that were themselves the expression of individual or...

  6. Part Two: Romantic Transgressions

    • Chapter IV TRAVEL FOR TRAVEL’S SAKE: STENDHAL
      (pp. 125-144)

      As Charles L. Batten, Jr., shows in connection with English travel writing, by the end of the eighteenth century the compromise implied by the notion of “pleasurable instruction” had begun to break down.¹ The quest for novelty and the emergence of a new interest in nature led in particular to self-consciously literary forms of writing in which the kind of useful information associated with guidebooks, encyclopedias, or the wide-ranging observations of travelers like Smollett, Diderot, and Arthur Young assumes a smaller and smaller place. From the turn of the century, the focus of some of the most memorable works in...

    • Chapter V DARWIN’S PASSIONATE VOYAGE
      (pp. 145-163)

      The name of Charles Darwin is not nowadays usually associated with the idea of transgression except in those circles where “creationism” still remains a dogmatic faith. Nor on the whole does the epithet “romantic” seem to be appropriate in view of the fact that it is usually reserved for period taste and values in the aesthetic sphere, and Darwin has survived in legend, if not in fact, as the great scientist whose preoccupation with fact and theory cut him off from feeling or the inner life, at least in the practice of his science. Yet, to readThe Voyage of...

    • Chapter VI THE PERVERSE TRAVELER: FLAUBERT IN THE ORIENT
      (pp. 164-184)

      In his travel writings, fromRome, Naples et Florence en 1817 to Promenades dans Rome, Stendhal made it very clear that he had no interest in traveling outside Europe. If the Italian peninsula was the source and center of Western civilization since the Renaissance, then he saw no necessity to emulate Byron’s Childe Harold in this respect, at least, by pursuing his travels into the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. The purpose of travel for Stendhal, as for the grand tourists in general, was to move up on the scale of civilization, not down, to go from a land...

  7. Part Three: Europe and Its Discontents

    • Chapter VII FREUD AND TRAVEL
      (pp. 187-201)

      In an effort to explain the fascination an old photo of the Alhambra exercises over him, Roland Barthes brings together Baudelaire’s reflections on the promise of place in “Invitation au voyage” and “Vie antérieure” with Freud’s concept of theunheimlich, or uncanny. And in doing so, Barthes, in effect, reanimates the notion of “homeness” in the root of the German word that is lost in the English translation, ofHeim, heimlich, andHeimator “home,” “homey,” and “homeland.” Something in the faraway house represented in the image makes itheimlich, “homey,” makes Barthes want to live there. And, as a...

    • Chapter VIII THE OTHER ITALY: D. H. LAWRENCE
      (pp. 202-222)

      Among modern British writers, no one has expressed more forcefully his discontent with the state of twentieth-century European civilization than D. H. Lawrence. In works in a variety of genres, Lawrence took issue with the founding values of that civilization going back to the Renaissance and beyond. The fierceness of his rebellion against home and homeland is comparable to that of Byron’s a century earlier, at least in the way he felt driven to leave England. And his passionate search for alternative ways of living in the world led him into a restless exile in Italy, Mexico, and Australia up...

    • Chapter IX POLITICAL WITNESS: T. E. LAWRENCE AND GIDE
      (pp. 223-245)

      D. H. Lawrence’s contemporaries, Τ. E. Lawrence and André Gide, shared in different ways his dissatisfactions with the European civilization of their time. At a number of moments in their lives, therefore, they both went out of their way to expose themselves to alternative forms of existence through foreign travel outside Europe. Gide traveled extensively in North Africa during the 1890s and the opening decade of the twentieth century, and was later to travel in west-central Africa and the Soviet Union. Τ. E. Lawrence began his solitary exploration of life abroad when still an undergraduate at Oxford. He was profoundly...

    • Chapter X TRAVEL FOR SCIENCE’S SAKE: MALINOWSKI AND LÉVI-STRAUSS
      (pp. 246-284)

      If one limit of travel writing is what I have called political witness, another is that branch of anthropology known as ethnography; that is, a writing that has peoples and their cultures as its object. The former typically involves a “political pilgrim,” who travels in order to observe an alternative, often recently established, political order to which he is drawn on ideological grounds. The latter has traditionally represented its travel as disinterested, value-free, and professional. From roughly the turn of the century on, it presupposed a new and ascetic breed of traveler who left his Western homeland not to explore,...

  8. Part Four: Postcolonial Dilemmas

    • Chapter XI WRITING THE ORIENT: BARTHES
      (pp. 287-304)

      The first part of Claude Lévi-Strauss’sTristes Tropiquesproclaims “The End of Travel.” Yet, in spite of its author’s opinions on the subject, it does not announce the end of travel writing. Though not without some discomfort, Lévi-Strauss himself goes on to tell the story of his travels around the world in a work that, like Bougainville’s voyage, provoked its own supplement by a contemporary critical philosopher in the person of Jacques Derrida. The burden of the latter’s critique is that Lévi-Strauss, by failing to posit a structure without “a transcendental signified” or a globe without a center, did not...

    • Chapter XII ORIGINARY DISPLACEMENT AND THE WRITER’S BURDEN: V. S. NAIPAUL
      (pp. 305-334)

      In spite of Claude Lévi-Strauss, travel to remote places is not likely to end soon; nor, in spite of Barthes’s writerly ethics of “No comment,” is travel writing of a more or less representational kind. We may have given up the dream of an encounter with a pristine world—that “coral island” of adolescent fantasy—and grown suspicious of a use of language that remains blind to any but the referential function. Given the important, if frequently unacknowledged, place they occupy in our individual and collective psyches, however, neither travel nor travel writing are about to disappear. Thus, even our...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 335-341)