Travel Literature

Topics: China, People's Republic of China, Vikram Seth Pages: 33 (13107 words) Published: September 17, 2012
Travel Literature is travel writing of literary value. This genre is also called ‘Travel Record Literature’. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-culture or transnational in focus, or may involve travel to different regions within the same country. Accounts of spaceflight may also be considered travel literature. Literary travelogues generally exhibit a coherent narrative or aesthetic beyond the logging of dates and events as found in travel journals or a ship’s log. Travel literature is closely associated with outdoor literature and the genres often overlap with no definite boundaries. Travelogue can also be a book or a film or a radio broadcast on travel. It is written in a style that is both interesting and informative. The Americans, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and William East Heat-Moon, Welsh author Jan Morris and Englishman Eric Newby are or were widely acclaimed as travel writers. The passion for knowledge about author countries has always driven men to embark upon land travels and sea-voyages to distant lands, the accounts of which have been left by them for posterity. Hence, the history of travelogues is an old as the history of man’s travels. Going far back in time, when the world was not much known, there were travellers like Al-Beruni, Fahien, Hiuen Tsang and others who travelled to lands in the East and the West and left rich accounts of their travels in books that have since served as important documents about the life, culture and history of the places they visited. Early examples of travel literature include Marco Polo's Il Milione, Pausaniass’ Description of Greece in the 2nd century CE, and the travelogues of Ibn Jubayr (1145-1214) and Ibn Batutta (1304-1377) both of whom recorded their travels across the known world in detail. The travel genre was a fairly common genre in medieval Arabic literature. One of the earliest known records of taking pleasure in travel, of travelling for the sake of travel and writing about it, is Petrarch’s (1304-1374) Ascent of Mount Ventoux in 1336. He states that he went to the mountaintop for the pleasure of seeing the top of the famous height. His companions who stayed at the bottom he called frigida incuriositas (a cold lack of curiosity). He then wrote about his climb, making allegorical comparisons between climbing the mountain and his own moral progress in life. Petrarch's Ascent of Mount Ventoux (1336), Richard Hakluyt's Voyage (1589), Xu Xiake's Record of Stone Bell Mountain, Captain James' Cook's Diaries (1784) are some of the early and famous travelogues. In the 18th Century England, almost every famous writer worked in the literature. Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and William East, Ian Morris and Eric Newby are widely acclaimed as travel writers. Homer's Odyssey (8th Century BC) is the first travelogue accounting the travels of the Greek hero, Odysseus on his voyage home from Troy. In the present century, there are many travelogues written by many writers, such as Julian Barnes' A History of World in 10 1/2 Chapters (1989) and England, England (1998), William Darlymple's The Age of Kali (1995), Douglas Adams' Last Chance to See (1990) and the like. In the 18th Century, travel literature was commonly known as the book of travels which mainly considered of maritime diaries. Almost every famous writer worked in the travel literature form. Captain James Cook’s diaries (1784) were the equivalent of today’s best sellers. There have been almost as many written accounts of travel down the ages, as there have been travellers. Beginning with Renaissance England, a large number of Elizabethan adventures, traders, settlers, explores and even exploiters, influenced by Columbus, voyages in the fifteenth century, set sail to discover new lands. Innumerable narratives of travel, which we...
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