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Travellers, Novelists, and Gentlemen

Constructing Male Narrative Personae in British Travel Books, from the Beginnings to the Second World War


Grzegorz Moroz

Travel writing studies have been focused mostly on women travel writers and on representations of the world and the other. This book adopts a novel perspective which diachronically combines the issues of genre and gender. The author postulates that the genre of the travel book in the British literary tradition was established and developed in the eighteenth century alongside the novel and the autobiography. He cogently presents the developments in earlier non-fictional travel narratives in order to expose both their similarities and fundamental differences from modern travel books. Underlying his research is the conviction that the narrative personae of travel books have always been placed in the foreground because of the key role of sentimental discourse and celebrity culture. This book competently analyses the main trends, techniques and constraints in the process of constructing male narrative personae in British travel books written between 1755 and 1939.


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The travel book as a genre in the British literary tradition was established in the second half of the eighteenth century and has been developing ever since in the complex relationship of competition and symbiosis with other genres foregrounding the individual self: the novel and the autobiography. There are two constitutive features of the genre of the travel book thus conceived. The first one is that the travel book is a narrative which relates in the first person a journey or journeys. The second one is that the non-fictional aspect of the travel book is established through the “referential pact” struck between the author and the reader; a pact which makes the reader assume that the journeys related have taken place in reality and that there exists the identity of the author, the first person narrator and the main protagonist. The nature of the referential pact can be crudely summarized as “I am going to write about what I have really experienced and you are expected to believe me.” The travel book as a genre drew strongly from the earlier—fictional and non- fictional—forms of travel narratives. Its most direct predecessors (called “pre- travelogues” in the present study) are—like travel books—organized along the lines of relating, through the first person narrator, journeys which have taken place in reality. This type of narrative can be traced back to Itinerarium Egeriae, written most probably at the end of the fourth century. The earlier, predominantly non- fictional travel narratives written...

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