The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945

By Joshua A. Fogel | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Why Do People Travel? Why Do People Write About Travel?

Eugene Fodor ( 1905-1991): In memory of a passionate traveler who made the foreign familiar.

-- Obituary, New York Times, February 25, 1991

In 1960 John Steinbeck ( 1902-68) set out in the company of his beloved dog on a three-month trip crisscrossing the United States by camper. His travelogue, Travels with Charley in Search of America, began:

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. . . . I don't improve. . . . I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. 1

Why do people travel? What impels us to leave the relative security of home and venture to an-other place? Is it the thrill of the unknown, "to seek out new worlds and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before," as the writers of the popular television series and endless travel tale Star Trek immodestly put it? Or is it, ultimately, to come to some better understanding of the self through an encounter with some-other, as stressed in the concluding segment of the film version of that quintessential piece of travel fiction, The Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Or is it perhaps a deeper psychic imperialist urge, a desire to make those

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