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Radicals on the Road

The Politics of English Travel Writing in the 1930s

Bernard Schweizer

Publication Year: 2001

In the 1930s, the discourse of travel furthered widely divergent and conflicting ideologies—socialist, conservative, male chauvinist, and feminist—and the major travel writers of the time revealed as much in their texts. Bernard Schweizer explores both the intentional political rhetoric and the more oblique, almost unconscious subtexts of Waugh, Orwell, Greene, and West in his groundbreaking study of travel writing's political dimension. Radicals on the Road demonstrates how historically and culturally conditioned forms of anxiety were compounded by the psychological dynamics of the uncanny, and how, in order to dispel such anxieties and to demarcate their ideological terrains, 1930s travelers resorted to dualistic discourses.

Published by: University of Virginia Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

MY FASCINATION with travel preceded my interest in travel writing by several years. In 1987 and 1988 I spent fourteen months abroad, backpacking through large tracts of Asia, followed by a stay Down Under and a slow hitchhiking trip up the Alaska Highway. One place in particular left an indelible mark on my memory. Like...

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pp. xi-xiv

I OWE A GREAT debt of gratitude to Marianna Torgovnick, who essentially taught me the craft of writing and provided expert support and guidance during the early stage of this book. A special thanks also to Fredric Jameson, Michael Moses, Thomas Pfau, and Ian Baucom for their helpful criticisms of my project....

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pp. 1-14

GOING ON A JOURNEY often involves fantasies of rebellion and renewal. Paul Hollander declares that ‘‘travel and revolution have something in common. Both are routine-shattering, seen as open-ended and leading to some, not fully definable, transformation of personal lives’’ (33). Georges Van den Abbeele argues similarly that ‘‘to call...

Part One

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pp. 15-16

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Chapter 1: George Orwell

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pp. 17-36

FOR GEORGE ORWELL, both the act and the rhetorical figure of traveling were linked with the idea of social and political transformation. Because of his intense awareness of social differences, it was enough for him to migrate from one social class to the next to feel the kind of estrangement typically experienced by travelers to distant...

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Chapter 2: Evelyn Waugh

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pp. 37-60

EVELYN WAUGH was an exceptional figure among the 1930s travelers insofar as he produced more travel books than anybody else and because he endowed them with a harder core of rightist ideology than most other 1930s English travel writers. Unlike Orwell, Waugh did not face the task of reconciling his bourgeois sensibility...

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Chapter 3: Graham Greene

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pp. 61-79

ANY ATTEMPT TO draw Graham Greene’s ideological profile is fraught with difficulties. Indeed, Greene’s ideology changed not only over the course of time but also depending on his spatial location. Before he joined the Independent Labour Party in 1933, he had supported both the Conservative Party and the communists for a while....

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Chapter 4: Rebecca West

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pp. 80-100

REBECCA WEST burst on the scene of Britain’s political life in 1911 and she soon commanded a good deal of respect as a socialist feminist with an awesome rhetorical talent. Her polemical articles, written during the 1910s for the Freewoman and for the socialist Clarion, called for the inclusion of all social classes in the fight for woman’s...

Part Two

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pp. 101-102

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Chapter 5: The Trouble with Dualism: Sites and Issues

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pp. 103-143

THE INHERENTLY dualistic construction of national and international politics in the 1930s comes to the fore in the survey ‘‘Authors Take Sides’’ (1937), which was published, with writers’ responses, in the Left Review. The questionnaire, which was addressed ‘‘To the Writers and Poets of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales,’’ stated...

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Chapter 6: The Geography of Fear: ‘‘Strange Effects of Space’’

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pp. 144-173

IN THE 1930s, as we have just seen, travelers returning from their journeys were often haunted by the impression that home looked deceptively like abroad. To Sara Suleri, all narratives of anxiety in the colonial context derive precisely from the ‘‘productive disordering of binary dichotomies’’ (4) such as self and other, home and abroad....

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pp. 174-186

ALTHOUGH BRITISH travelers of the 1930s were ostensibly interested in political issues abroad, their observations and judgments were deeply anchored in the historical imperatives and dominant ideologies of their own society. For instance, the disjunction between Britain’s rightists and leftists during the 1930s is clearly...


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pp. 187-196


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pp. 197-204


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pp. 205-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780813921969
E-ISBN-10: 0813921961
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813920696
Print-ISBN-10: 0813920698

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2001

OCLC Number: 759159957
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Radicals on the Road

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • British -- Foreign countries -- History -- 20th century.
  • West, Rebecca, -- 1892-1983 -- Political and social views.
  • Greene, Graham, 1904-1991 -- Political and social views.
  • Orwell, George, -- 1903-1950 -- Political and social views.
  • Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966 -- Political and social views.
  • Politics and literature -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
  • English prose literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Travelers' writings, English -- History and criticism.
  • Radicalism -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
  • Travel writing -- History -- 20th century.
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