Meyer, Michael(2017):
"Romantic Travel Books." Handbook of British Romanticism. Eds. Haekel, Ralf. Berlin: De Gruyter. 237-255. Handbooks of English and American Studies; 6.
Article in Anthology
Abstract

Romantic travel books add introspection to observation. The shift towards sentiment, aesthetic experience, and self-reflection locates perception in the embodied observer rather than the disembodied eye, inviting phenomenology as a useful approach. Rather than only serving as ideal representatives of universalized Englishness or Britishness, Romantic travel writers tend to reveal divisions within the self and the nation. The selection of examples provides an insight into the shared quality and the differences of Romantic travelogues in terms of the authors’ class and gender, the regions travelled, the modes and genres of writing, and their functions: The Scottish physician Mungo Park explores the region of the Niger River in West Africa, constructing the self as both empirical observer and suffering hero. The aristocrat William Beckford rejects the educative function of the Grand Tour to Europe for the sake of subjective experience and the realm of his imagination. The radical writer Mary Wollstonecraft puts Scandinavia on the British map from the perspective of a sentimental and educated woman.