Authentic travel in an age of global tourism

Graulund, Rune; Graulund, Rune, ed. (2010) Authentic travel in an age of global tourism. In: Desperately Seeking Authenticity. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, pp. 45-58. ISBN 978-87993761-0-0

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Looking at a handful of critical studies of travel writing, one will notice a recurrent feature of what is generally termed ‘modern’ travel writing. As always, exactly what constitutes the term ‘modern’ is contested as is the period of time it is supposed to cover. One fact, though, seems to be a commonly acknowledged characteristic of the genre. Namely that, as Ali Behdad’s put it in the title of Belated Travellers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution (1994), the modern traveller, and hence the modern travel writer, is characterised by a sense of ‘belatedness’. In the words of James Duncan and Derek Gregory’s Writes of Passage: reading travel writing (1999), ‘the networks that made escape from home possible - railways and steamships, hotels and tour companies - ensured that modern tourism was constantly haunted by the spectre of belatedness, by the sense of arriving at the very moment that a non-modern world was fast disappearing under the impress of modernity’.As Patrick Holland and Graham Huggan argued it in their seminal study Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing (1998), the ‘spectre of belatedness’, doggedly tagging the modern traveller as a constant reminder that it is too late, is as a result ‘one of the staples of modern travel writing’.