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Travelling the desert : desert travel writing as indicator species

Graulund, Rune (2006) Travelling the desert : desert travel writing as indicator species. Studies in Travel Writing, 10 (2). pp. 141-159.

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Abstract

Travel writing, like so much else, is allegedly succumbing to a postmodern distrust of 'the real'. Some now find it hard to distinguish it from fiction. This article considers the possibility that desert travel writing in particular has, for a long time, furnished the best evidence for such a claim, nurtured as it is by an almost featureless environment that seems to drive authors towards self-referentiality. If this is so, desert travel writing may be said to anticipate developments in the genre as a whole. However, as the work of Robyn Davidson, Martin Buckley, Jonathan Raban and others suggest, the desert has also played a key role as a place of refuge for those seeking authenticity. Perhaps in this respect, too, the subgenre has something important to tell us about travel writing in general.