Travelogue: Definition, Examples & Meaning

Also Read

      Travelogue, in literature, is a record of the experiences of an author traveling. Travelogue may refer to a travel documentary, a documentary film or television program that describes travel in general. The genre of travel literature encompasses outdoor literature, guide books, nature writing and travel memoir. A travelogue is usually a single person’s account of a trip, journey or otherwise. Naturally, the early travelogue would have been hand-written on either paper or in blank books to chronicle the adventures of the traveler. Such writing is highly individualized, and is an experience of a journey seen through the eyes of the traveler. It can include virtually anything encountered on a trip: what a person ate, what a person saw, conversations, or notable features of a culture. A personal travelogue is most frequently written in first person. One early travel memoirist in the Western literature was Pausanias, a Greek geographer of the 2nd century AD. We have numerous famous travelogues written by some of the European explorers. Marco Polo’s work stands as a good example of his journey to and his subsequent experience of China during the Mongol Ascendancy. In the early modern period, James Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786) helped shape travel memoir as a genre.

      The travel journal style is not exclusively non-fictional. Many famous written works are travelogues of fictional places. Dante’s Divine Comedy is essentially the record of a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, and like much travel writing, it is told in first person narration. Gulliver’s Travels is another early fictional travelogue. Travel literature often intersects with essay writing, as in V. S. Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilization (1976), whose trip became the occasion for extended observations on a nation and people. This is similarly the case in Rebecca West’s work on Yugoslavia, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941). Sometimes a writer will settle into a locality for an extended period, absorbing a sense of place while continuing to observe with a travel writer’s sensibility. Examples of such writings include Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons (1957), Deborah Tail’s The Island of the White Cow (1986), and Peter Mayle’s best-selling A Year in Provence (1989) and its sequels.

      A number of many other writers famous in another field have written about their travel experiences. Such examples include Samuel Johnson’s A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775); Charles Dickens’ American Notes for General Circulation (1842); Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796); Hilaire Belloc’s The Path To Rome (1902); D. H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy and Other Essays (1916); Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays (1927); Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941); and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962).

Previous Post Next Post