This essay examines how travel narratives can bridge aesthetics and experience to generate political commentary. Specifically, I argue that William Makepeace Thackeray’s underexamined Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo by Way of Lisbon, Athens, Constantinople, and Jerusalem (1846) exploits the conventions of travel writing to satirize British culture and politics abroad. Scholars generally have read this text alongside other travel narratives, regarding it as a straightforward nonfictional account of British imperialism. This essay, however, focuses specifically on how Thackeray manipulates narrative elements such as time to satirize Britain’s traditional literary-based geopolitics in the Mediterranean. This essay reads Cornhill to Grand Cairo together with Thackeray’s contemporaneous humor series “Punch in the East,” as well as his private papers and correspondence, to analyze the criticisms embedded in the popular Mediterranean travel narrative. These writings together reveal an extremely pointed—and partially excised—critique of British heterodoxy.


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pp. 583-604
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