Questions of Authority : Italian and Australian Travel Narratives of the Long Nineteenth Century book cover
1st Edition

Questions of Authority
Italian and Australian Travel Narratives of the Long Nineteenth Century

ISBN 9781138562486
Published October 26, 2017 by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

Questions of Authority investigates Italian–Australian literary travel exchanges throughout the long nineteenth century. The 1800s witnessed major transformations in Australian overseas travel: it gradually evolved from a replica of the Continental Grand Tour of the British, to a more idiosyncratic cosmopolitan experience, either touristic or professional. Moreover, it was during the second half of this century that both Italy and Australia underwent crucial political upheavals; these resulted in shifts from colonial and subjugated status, to self-government and ultimately independence. This volume connects these geographical, political and sociocultural contexts of Italy and Australia by considering their interlaced odeporic library, produced at a significant time in history. Additionally, this book analyses key texts compiled by Italians in Australia, and Australians in Italy: these chiefly consist of voyage accounts, but also include the records of explorers, missionaries, scientists and migrants coming from the Italian peninsula. These primary sources include unpublished travel diaries compiled by the first Victorian women visitors to the Bel Paese, which have been largely neglected by scholarship thus far.

This examination pinpoints the enduring significance of Italy in travel-related terms, showing how this destination was adapted from the map of eighteenth-century British Grand Tourists, to that of nineteenth-century Australian holiday makers. Most critically, Questions of Authority argues Italian–Australian peripatetic connections entail issues of authority, that emerge in the ways in which Italian and Australian travel writers displayed their authorship, cultural capital and national identification in relation to the other country. Finally, it demonstrates how these are highly regulated by, and yet simultaneously challenge, British colonial hegemony.

Table of Contents


List of Figures



Part One: Italians in Australia

Chapter 1: Exploration and Religion

  1. James Mario Matra, ‘one of those gentlemen […] that can very well be spared’

  2. Alessandro Malaspina at the Service of ‘the nation that has taken me

  3. as one of its own!’

  4. Rosendo Salvado and the Benedictine Mission of New Norcia:

  5. ‘a victory obtained without bloodshed or noise of arms’

    Chapter 2: Early Migration and Science

  6. Raffaello Carboni’s ‘truth, and nothing but the truth’

  7. Unauthorized Naturalistic Travels

  8. Pietro Munari’s Ambivalent Authority: ‘bible, lead and rum’

  9. Part Two: Australians in Italy

    Chapter 3: From Travel to Tourism

  10. Grace Leadbetter: ‘our feelings on first leaving home notwithstanding we were

  11. bound on a tour of pleasure’

  12. James Smith’s Travel Notes: ‘a sort of handbook’

  13. Sophia Jennings: ‘flitting from our dear old home’

  14. Chapter 4: Touristic and Artistic Journeys

  15. Violet Ida Chomley: ‘not the "Grand Tour" but the "Downward Path"’

  16. Nathan Spielvogel: ‘what interests me most is wandering’

  17. Louie Riggall’s Capri: ‘a bit of the street from our window’




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Laura Olcelli has recently completed a Doctor of Philosophy in English at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research interests span exploration literature, women’s travel narratives, and travel writing – from the Grand Tour to the twentieth century, with a focus on journeys to and from Italy. She has published journal articles and book chapters in all of these fields. She is an awarded presenter at international literary conferences.

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