Terry Caesar has published travel pieces on China, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil, and is presently putting together a book-length collection on his travel writing as well as another book on the category of "abroad" in American travel writing from its beginings to the present.
2. The division is given in the following manner: "And I had learned what I had always secretly believed, that the difference between travel writing and fiction is the difference between recording what the eye sees and discovering what the imagination knows. Fiction is pure joy—how sad that I could not reinvent the trip as fiction. It would have had . . . such a pleasing shape if I had artfully distributed light and shadow and played with the grammar of delay" (34-42). Theroux goes on to sketch some examples of how characters and events from previous pages could have been altered. It might be remarked that the ease with which he does this does not inspire confidence that he has in fact refused the "joy" of fiction, since the very enactment of doing it shows how it could be done, inscribes a moment of fictional "discovery" within the very text of "recording" that protests itself free of such moments.
3. Any number of readings of Pym could be additionally cited in order to show how remarkably they gloss Theroux's text. Unlike Pym, no great white figure looms in the mist at the end of The Old Patagonian Express, for example, and yet Irwin's recent comment on this shadow is strongly applicable to the Patagonia of vast nothingness: ". . . Pym's continuing lack of recognition culminates in his not recognizing that the gigantic white figure in the mist at the end of the narrative is his own shadow, a kind of literal nonrecognition that he is seeking his own shadow image" (13). Irwin has earlier grounded Pym's description of the nesting habits of albatrosses and penguins in two texts: Browne's The Garden of Cyrus and A Narrative of Four Voyages by one Benjamin Morrell. His concluding sentence is particularly apt to Theroux's concluding effort to be free of meaning: "In one way or another what man adds to any landscape is meaning, no matter how empty or desolate that landscape may be—an insight enacted again and again in American literature, whether in the form of a figure in the South Polar mist, or a jar in Tennessee, or as in the present case the pattern of birds' nests on Desolation Island" (14).