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The Modernist Traveler

French Detours, 1900-1930

Kimberley J. Healey

Publication Year: 2004

The Modernist Traveler considers figures whose writing about travel rebelled against a literary tradition of exoticism, adventure stories, and novelistic travelogues. Instead these writers initiated a modernist strain in travel writing and a shift in the literary establishment and the culture at large. Kimberley J. Healey focuses on those French writers and thinkers who traveled in order to experience a displacement of both the inner self and the physical body while writing against the prevalent tradition of travel literature.
The modern self, modern time, colonial spaces, and the physical body are Healey’s concerns as she reads works by Victor Segalen, Paul Morand, Blaise Cendrars, Henri Michaux, Saint-John Perse, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Nizan, Albert Londres, Andre Malraux, Valéry Larbaud, and Isabelle Eberhardt. This book shows how, in the field of French literature, these texts about travel best capture the modernist experience of being alone in a world of new technologies, cultural diversity, and anxiety about the self.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

My thanks go to Gerald Prince and Michele Richman for their support and encouragement from the very beginning of this project. I consider myself fortunate to have been encouraged by them to write about my interests and follow my instincts. Their teaching and guidance led me to discover many of the texts that this book brings together. Laurent Jenny and his colleagues at the University of ...

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pp. 1-16

In 1930 Paul Nizan wrote of the era, "During those soft years, in which disgust, and impatience to be men, rose in everyone like an attack of fever, an irresistible centrifugal force pulled the least weighty of them away from the center of the earth called Paris" (Aden Arabie, 79/81).1 From Victor Segalen to Claude Lévi- Strauss, French writers and thinkers of the twentieth century traveled to discover ...

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Chapter 1. Victor Segalen in China: The Other Which Is Not

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pp. 17-48

Travel literature would seem to be a privileged site for tracing the encounter between Europeans and foreign subjects. By reading accounts of journeys abroad, one can imagine discovering how the French really saw the "others" they encountered. These various others could serve to constitute the self or notions of Frenchness. However, in my reading of early twentieth-century narratives, it ...

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Chapter 2. Modern Time, Paul Morand, and Blaise Cendrars: The Relativity of Simultaneity

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pp. 49-78

In 1905 Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity, and in 1922 the French philosopher and Nobel prizewinner Henri Bergson discussed this theory in his influential book Duration and Simultaneity, with Reference to Einstein's Theory (Durée et simultanéité, à propos de la théorie d'Einstein), thus importing many of Einstein's ideas into Paris of the 1920s. As writers traveled in the early twentieth ...

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Chapter 3. Travel Zones: Colonial and Textual Spaces

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pp. 79-106

In Equipée Victor Segalen writes of the great Chinese emperor who, loving both home and travel, journeyed with great silk banners that represented his kingdom and would be unfurled every evening at his camp. The emperor could thus always be both here and there, on the road and at home. The desire to both be far and near finds its parallel in the traveling writer who, rather than unfurling banners ...

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Chapter 4. Anatomy of No Escape: Traveling Bodies

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pp. 107-138

Describing the futurist body, the art historian Chris Poggi wrote, "Ultimately, then, the motor will obey its master. Once fused with the machine, with wings sprouting from his very flesh, the new Futurist male will be able to externalize his will without resistance, achieving each of his desires while reigning over space and time" (20).1 Traveling writers observing various manifestations of space and time ...


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pp. 139-144


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pp. 145-158

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 159-170


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pp. 171-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780803203419
E-ISBN-10: 0803203411

Publication Year: 2004