Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Existential Approaches to Travel Writing: Travelling Identities

Author: Olivier SALAZAR-FERRER, Lecturer in French, School of Modern Languages & Cultures, University of Glasgow



This paper will be devoted to a philosophical analysis of key existential tropes of travel narrative: dispossession, otherness, recognition, hospitality, awareness in modern travel writing. Using narratives by Nicolas Bouvier, Jacques Lacarrière and J.M.G. Le Clézio in a Ricoerian framework, I will explore the symbolical and allegorical dimensions of religious and spiritual journeys. Is travel writing to be considered, like pilgrimage, as the outer manifestation of an inner journey? To what extent is the experience of travelling universal beyond cultural singularities in the century of globaliza-tion? From the outbound journey to the return itinerary, the process of spiritual transformation in the inner journey can be considered as the core of the pilgrimage. To re-think this problematics in a post-modern framework, I intend to propose the concept of the “traveller of diversity” which includes a process of disorientation and “decategorisation” of consciousness drawing on a Deleuzian theoretical framework as well as on Edouard Glissant’s archipelic thought. Furthermore, travel writing will be questioned in relation to the most recent reflection of philosophers on initiatory journey (Barbara Cassin, G. Agamben, Jean Luc Nancy). Ultimately, I shall question the role of reflexivity and autobio-graphical form in travel writing as linked to the concept of narrative identity in post-modernism leading up to an exploration of their own paradoxical relationship to reality (Henri Michaux, Hélène Cixous, Sebald, Villa-Matas), including the notions of autobio-graphical pact and auto-fiction.



post-modern, travel writing, pilgrimage, initiatory journey, autobiographical pact


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