Travels, Initiatory Journeys

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DOSSIER LITTERATURE ANGLAISE
TRAVELS, INITIATORY JOURNEYS, EXILE

Traveling has always fascinated men who fed their imagination with this way of escaping the reality of their society. But this is only the first meaning of the word “travel” because it can also take other equally exotic aspects. So we talked about the trip as a physical escape but what about the travel seen as a mental loophole? So traveling could be a way of getting out the entrapment of reality, of the actual situation. But to what aim? Perhaps to escape unemployment and find work or to escape from the weight of the flesh when the journey is mental. The trip can also lead to a moment of epiphany: then it would carry an interesting initiatory dimension.

The journey can be seen as a wandering, a roaming during which the traveler is free, or considered as being free just because he can venture in wild nature but he is often prompted by material reasons more than urged by the desire to entertain himself. Indeed, this travel we could envy is often considered as an ordeal from the protagonist’s point of view. In Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, published in 1937, George and Lenny bemoan their harsh living conditions as itinerant workers and plan what they call their freedom, which is their settlement in a real house that would be theirs. Journey is a term that implies travel, which can offer up new insights, experiences, cultures and perspectives. In the novel, the writer takes us into the American outback, and we journey with the characters as they face the various challenges and barriers that arise as they attempt to achieve the “great American dream”: settling down and farming their own land. So the characters travel physically speaking (it is actually an exile because it seems that they are wanted by the authorities), trying to find work on ranches. But the inner and emotional journey they do all through the novel is far more significant, and we see the changes in the characters from the first...
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