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Other Routes: 1,500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing.

Other Routes

1,500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing

Edited by Tabish Khair, Justin Edwards, Martin Leer and Hanna Ziadeh

[pounds sterling]14.99 Signal Books

ISBN 1-904955-12-6


The accounts in this anthology include narratives of shipwreck and capture, slavery and freedom, monsoon and deserts, love and enmity, meditation and confusion, visits to famous cities and treks across unknown mountains, crowds of people and attacks by lions. Arranged in sections with clearly written introductions that situate the writing and highlight some salient features, the extracts included in this anthology not only make for fascinating reading, at times of texts that have never previously appeared in English, they also complicate notions of travel and travel writing. The introduction also provides the first published typology of Asian and African travel writing.

The collection includes pilgrimage accounts, which describe a 'national' circuit (as in Lady Nijo's, c1280, or Sei Shonagon's, c990, accounts) or move across vast regions to places of learning and pilgrimage or to a particular centre of religio-cultural significance (the early Chinese travellers to India in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, the Hajj pilgrimage of Ibn Jubayr in the 12th century, Blyden's Africanist-Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 19th century).

These pilgrimage accounts can also taper into other genres: for instance, while Ibn Battutah (b1304) set out to go to Mecca, he ended up travelling across 50 countries and dictating what is undoubtedly a travel book in a narrow generic sense rather than the account of a pilgrimage.
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Comment:Other Routes: 1,500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing.
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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