Imaginary Homelands: The West and East in Modern Travel Writing

Luigi Marfè

Abstract


Since the time of Herodotus’ Historiai, travel writing as a literary genre has been marked by an unspoken premise: Westerners would be the observing travellers, while Orientals or Easterners, on the contrary, the observed natives. Focusing on the recent development of an opposite «counter-travel writing» by extra-European authors who live in the West and face its contradictions, this essay defines the historical and literary changes that have overturned this paradigm. Caught between two cultures, two languages, and two nations, authors such as Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, and Suketu Mehta, have profoundly reshaped the representation of the cultural encounter between the West and the East. If “nation” consists in its “narration”, as Homi Bhabha puts it, the same concept of homeland loses its geographical roots and opens itself to the endless contaminations of a global world. West and East thus become “imaginary homelands”: ideal spaces for the renegotiation of cultures and identities which need always to be rethought, retold, and re-imagined.

Keywords


Travel writing; Travel narrative; Geocriticism; Globalization; Orientalism; Post-colonial Studies

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/301

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17588

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