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Journeys in the Sun: Travel Literature and Desire in the Balearic Islands (1903–1939)

Second edition

Eduard Moyà

The Mediterranean and the Balearic Islands have always enticed the minds of British travellers. In the first years of the twentieth century, the tourist industry made the islands accessible for a wide number of visitors, who depicted them in pictures and words. In the following decades, however, the image of the islands shifted and developed considerably from a quiet and pastoral winter resort to a popular destination for pleasure-seeking tourists and "sea ‘n’ sun" tourism. Taking these last representations as a starting point, this book travels back in time to explain how, by whom and why these images were created/shifted/developed to articulate the ultimate place of leisure and pleasure signified in today’s Majorca and Ibiza. The depiction and the evolution of topics such as ‘travel’, ‘tourism’, ‘authenticity’, ‘landscape’, ‘South’, ‘North’, ‘margin’, ‘centre’, ‘exoticism’, ‘people’, ‘costumes’ and ‘customs’ are examined in order to establish their contribution to the formulation of the ‘Balearic paradise’ in the first third of the twentieth century. This book will help the reader to understand the imagery associated with the islands today.

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Chapter 4. People, Customs and Costumes




The relation between North and South is not only a spatial one, but also one of power and prestige (Beller and Leerssen 2007: 278-279). Torgovnick points out that we “imagine ourselves through the primitive in other, equally devious, ways that also challenge the border between the psychological and the political” (1990: 18). Travellers in the beginnings of the century cannot avoid travelling from a somewhat rigid political and psychological bias. One of these biases is the evolutionist theory, which is still very strong in the first third of the twentieth century. The colonialist understanding of that era supposes that societies in the spatial periphery lie either in the initial, or final, stages of evolution and are, therefore, primitive (like the Congo) or obsolete (like India). According to Said, nineteenth century ideas about “the biological bases of racial inequality” and a second-order Darwinism “accentuate the ‘scientific’ validity of the division of races into advanced and backward (or subject) races” (Said 1978: 206). As a result, many travelogues conflate exoticist and primitivist travel discourses to depict these countries and their inhabitants. Following some of the dimensions discussed above (North vs. South, exoticism, ancient and new) this chapter concentrates on the discourses deployed to represent the subjects visited in the accounts.

Regardless of their social practices and customs, the identity of the subjects portrayed in travel accounts is constrained by the limits of a textual world. In this textual ‘reality’, “persons...

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