The Contemporary Anglophone Travel Novel explores the themes of alienation and displacement in a genre of post-World War II novels that portrays the pursuit of an authentic travel experience in a culturally unfamiliar place. Levin explores two questions: why does travel to an "undiscovered" place—one imagined outside the bounds of modernity—remain an enduring preoccupation in western civilization; and how does the representation of adventure travel change in the era of mass culture, when global capitalism expands at a rapid pace. The book argues that whereas travel writers between the wars romanticized their journeys overseas, travel writing after World War II takes an increasingly melancholic and nihilistic view of a commercial society in which adventure travel no longer proves capable of producing a sense of authentic selfhood. Through close analysis of specific texts and authors, the book provides a rich discussion of anglophone literature in the cultural context of the twentieth-century. It examines the capacity of popular culture for social critique, the relationship between leisure travel and postcolonial cultures, and the idealization of selfhood and authenticity in modern and postmodern culture. The study reflects the best potential of interdisciplinary scholarship, and will prove influential for anyone working in the fields of contemporary literature, cultural theory, and cross-cultural studies.
"well-grounded, systematically organized, and intriguingly new conceptualizations of postmodern subjectivity and the adventure travel genre with wide interdisciplinary appeal." -- Modern Fiction Studies, Kristine A. Wilson, Purdue University
Preface: A Point of Entry
I Introduction: Adventure Travel, Leisure Practice and Social Critique
II The Contemporary Crusoe: Obsessionality and Adventure Travel
III Postmodern Pilgrimages: Conversion and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the Hysterical
IV The Self in Ruins: Mourning and Melancholia in Contemporary Travel Writing
V Conclusion: Negation as a Lived Critique of Global Culture