Saturday, May 27, 2006


There's an interesting review essay about a sub-genre of travel writing called "loiterature" in the Financial Times by Professor Jeremy Treglown of Warwick University. Loiterature is travel writing based on exploring the routes taken by earlier, more famous, travelling writers.

It starts with "exploration [which] involves emulating a predecessor: not only acknowledging the fact that the journey isn’t new, but measuring current experiences against those of a different person and time."

It also usually entails retailing what the author has learned about herself on these more recent travels.

Among other books, Treglown reviews "the comedian and Hollywood psycho-therapist" Pamela Stephenson's luxury yachting on the path of the South Pacific voyage that Robert Louis Stevenson made from San Francisco to Western Samoa with his wife and family; Christopher Ondaatje's tracking through Sri Lanka where Leonard Woolf lived (and wrote about) as a colonial servant; and Bernard-Henry Levy's not-very-successful attempt to replicate Tocqueville's journey through America.

Click here to read Treglown's essay--and the sooner the better, since the FT doesn't allow much free access.

--Marshal Zeringue