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Palm Trees and Sugar Cane: Richard Henry Dana's To Cuba and Back. (Language & Literature).

Palm Trees and Sugar Cane: Richard Henry Dana's To Cuba and Back. Paul Q. Kucera, Michigan State University, English Department; home address: 1444 I Spartan Village, East Lansing, MI 48823-5740; kucerapa@msu.edu

This paper discusses Richard Henry Dana's To Cuba arid Back (1859) in light of Wittgenstein's philosophy, as elucidated through Gordon C. F. Bearn's Waking to Wonder: Wittgenstein's Existential Investigations (1997). Dana travels to Cuba as "a mere vacationmaker." The disavowal of authority implied in that identity is belied by Dana's observant, curious, but no longer so youthfully Romantic eye. Dana's thoughts about transcendence and essence have long since undergone revision. Making no claim to what Cuba "is," Dana instead is concerned to depict his experience in "Cuba." Criticism of early U. S. travel writing (e.g., William Stowe, Terry Caesar, Mary Suzanne Schriber) employs a methodology that addresses only part of Dana's travel. Bearn provides a methodology more fully opening To Cuba and Back through emphasizing the concept of wonder, a concept that rejects division between depth and surface, that sets aside the essentialist terminologies occupying current criticism. Through my examination To Cuba and Ba ck, an undeservedly neglected travel book, is opened as the implications for a Wittgensteinian approach to travel writing are explored.
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Author:Kucera, Paul Q.
Publication:Michigan Academician
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Words:208
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