Travel Culture: Essays on What Makes Us Go

By Carol Traynor Williams | Go to book overview

Annotated Bibliography

IF THE TRAVEL CULTURE is as broad a field as we say it is, then of course its bibliography is bound to leave things out. First, I am leaving out the practical travel guide books, though many of them go beyond the practical, and some are downright poetic. Limiting the bibliography to books about travel, I omit almost all the failures. "Failure," of course, is subjective: too much interior journeying--too much "looking for oneself"--does me in, but my threshold may come sooner (or later) than yours. Obviously, I will have missed some books; also, every good novel, memoir, autobiography, or biography, and other "true" stories, give a sense of place and sometimes of journey too. In early 1997, for example, Walter Cronkite 's A Reporter's Life gives a sweet sense of growing up in Kansas in the early years of the twentieth century and an unwitting, "shadow"-picture of the travel in this century that was most significant to many men and women: the "travail" through war. Many superlative writers saw a place askew (my call) because their eye was on their subject or themselves--for example, Norman Mailer, on the 1968 Democratic and Republican Party conventions, and on Norman Mailer (of course), in Miami and the Siege of Chicago. Nonetheless, Mailer's peripheral (sometimes downright blind) view is intriguing because his mind's eye is so superb. This bibliography, then, can only introduce the novel, autobiography, and so on, as travel writing; it is arbitrary, is it not, to limit the fiction writers to those who wrote at least one travel book per se? Who caught Paris (or New York) better than F. Scott Fitzgerald, especially in his short stories? Perhaps John Cheever did New York better, in his short stories. Or perhaps Thomas Wolfe did . . . I will add to the genres introduced some that may be new to you, such as cookbooks; but I will also put off--sadly--filmography (for example, that haunting picture of the dark island off the state of Washington in Five Easy Pieces). This is, however, a start.

Adams, Percy. Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1982. Valuably, it places travel literature in the (roiling) mainstream.

Adler, Judith. "Travel as Performed Art," American Journal of Sociology 94:6 ( May 1989): 1366-91.

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