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The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination$
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Carl Thompson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259984

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259984.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination

Carl Thompson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Since the Romantic period, there have been travellers who have especially valorized the discomforts, dangers, misadventures, and disasters that can occur in the course of travel. This introductory chapter outlines this ‘misadventurous’ agenda and suggests ways in which we might interpret this curious attitude to travel: as a mode of anti-tourism that maintains a distinction between the tourist and the proper traveller, as a form of masculine self-fashioning in travel, as a route to authenticity, and so forth. The notion of the travel ‘script’, the narrative we expect to see playing out in the course of our travelling, is introduced, and also the strong link between the characteristically Romantic travel script — that is to say, the script espoused in practice and in writing by figures such as Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge and Keats — and the various branches of contemporary travel writing in which the sufferings of the traveller are a key point of interest; notably, narratives of shipwreck, captivity, mountaineering, and exploration. These sub-genres of Romantic-era travel writing and the Romantic utilization of them in the fashioning of their own travel personae will form the focus of the rest of the book.

Keywords:   travel, travel writing, Romanticism, Romantic poetry, tourism, anti-tourism, authenticity, adventure, misadventure, exploration

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