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The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing

by Peter Hulme (Editor), Tim Youngs (Editor)

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501378,128 (3.67)1
The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing brings together specialists from anthropology, history, literary and cultural studies to offer a broad and vibrant introduction to travel writing in English between 1500 and the present. This comprehensive introduction to the subject features specially commissioned contributions, including six essays surveying the period's travel writing; a further six focusing on geographical areas of particular interest - Arabia, the Amazon, Tahiti, Ireland, Calcutta, the Congo and California; and three final chapters analysing some of the theoretical and cultural dimensions to this enigmatic and influential genre of writing. Several invaluable tools are also provided, including an extensive list of further reading, and a detailed five-hundred year chronology listing important events and publications. This volume will be of interest to teachers and students alike.… (more)

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The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing is a series of 15 academically-oriented essays by 15 authors divided into 3 Parts. Part I "Surveys" contains 5 essays that provide a general survey of the literature from 1500 to the present. I found these to be the most interesting as it provides historical context and the most important works to know about. Part II "Sites" contains 7 essays that are surveys also, but for specific regions: Arabia, Amazon, Tahiti, Congo, Scotland/Ireland, Calcutta, California. These are more detailed and focused, my only complaint is there were not more surveys for other regions. Finally Part III "Topics" contains 3 essays covering more theoretical and academic subjects: essays on gender, ethnography and theory. I found these the least interesting as they are for those with a more specialized background (ie. literary theory, gender studies, etc.). In addition there is a lengthy Introduction providing an overview of the book. Each essay contains footnotes and a bibliography. There is a chronological list of the works selected by the authors as the most significant at the end of the book which is a great resource.

As each essay is written by someone different I found some better than others (as followed my interest level in certain places and periods). The essays are not entirely stand-alone there is some cross referencing between them which forms a whole work. The first five surveys mainly focus on English authors only, and there is little discussed about non-traditional narratives (slave narratives, etc..) such as can be found in the recent Oxford Anthology (2005). As a literary history of travel writing this is a wonderful reference and I recommend it highly, both for the professional scholar (I am not) and the interested fan of travel literature who wants to find the most important works and place them into historical context. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Aug 15, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hulme, PeterEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Youngs, TimEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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