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REVIEW ARTICLE TRAVEL, IDENTITY AND CULTURE James Buzard. The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to 'Culture', 1800-1918. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. xii + 357. Maria H. Frawley. A Wider Range: Travel Writing by Women in Victorian England. London: Associated UP, 1994. 237. Inderpal Grewal. Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel. Durham: Duke UP, 1996. x+ 286. $45.95 US (cloth); $15.95 US (paper). Susan Morgan. Place Matters: Gendered Geography in Victorian Women's Travel Books About Southeast Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1996. xi + 345. $50.00 US (cloth); $19.95 US (paper). If Maria Frawley were beginning her study of women travel writers today, she probably would not be motivated as strongly as she was when she embarked on die book reviewed here by the desire to rescue women's travel writing from scholarly neglect. For during the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in travel and travel writing among scholars in many disciplines. This burgeoning interest has been accompanied by dramatic changes in the approach to studying travel. In die past, die few scholars publishing studies of travel tended to privilege male travel writers and to produce descriptive, often celebratory works detailing who went where when. More recently, die trend has been to treat travel as a vehicle for exploring cultures, especially the ways cultural encounters have shaped gender, national, racial, and class identities. These newer works thus reflect the latetwentieth -century upsurge in identity consciousness as well as the enormous impact of works by Edward Said and Benedict Anderson. Although they differ regarding methodologies and geographic context, all four books consider travel less as a physical act, and more as Review Article191 a culture with its own languages, literatures, and ways of creating meaning. The authors analyze the languages and literatures of travel in order to reveal how people have invested meaning, or identity, in themselves and others. They see the positioning of the Self in relation to Others as crucial to the identity construction process. Working with these similar assumptions, the authors arrive at very different conclusions regarding the larger implications of travel and identity formation. James Buzard's The Beaten Track is both the most narrowly focused and comprehensive of the four books. With respect to travel destinations, it is limited in focus to Europe. Buzard offers an engaging literary analysis of fiction, essays, travel writing, and guidebooks by British and American travellers who went to Europe between the Napoleonic and First World Wars. His primary aim is to reveal the nature and cultural significance of tourism as it emerged in Europe and North America during the nineteenth century. Although the book's geographic context is limited, its conceptual context is all encompassing. For according to Buzard, to study European and American tourism is to understand the essence of modern democratic and commercial culture. The reader who wants a well-written, entertaining discussion of the infrastructure and institutions of modern tourism, meaning transport developments, touring companies and guidebooks, wUl find it here. But these are not the book's main subject. Instead, Buzard focuses on the tourist/traveller dichotomy which he sees as an integral part of tourism itself. He argues elegantly and persuasively that the commercialization and democratization of touring in the nineteenth century led members of the middle and upper classes to seek cultural authenticity by positioning themselves as "travellers" in relation to the mass of mere "tourists". Using fiction, essays, and travel accounts, Buzard shows how authors denigrated tourists by depicting them as superficial, passive, and dependent followers of the "beaten track" laid for them by rail companies, guidebooks, and entrepreneurs such as Thomas Cook. In contrast, these same authors identified diemselves as travellers who, because of their aesthetic sensitivities and independent spirit, avoided the beaten track and dius experienced other places and peoples in an original, authentic way. Buzard is careful not to take writers' self-proclaimed status as travellers at face value. He recognizes the ironic, mythic nature of the tourist and traveller identities, and shows how, in reality, the tourist/traveller dichotomy collapsed in a number of ways. For example, both tourists and anti-tourists clearly treated...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 190-196
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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