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The quest for truth: towards a taxonomy of hodoeporics (1).

A Genre With "A Thousand Forms and Formulas"

Il faudrait etre bien confit en estheticisme pour rejeter hors de l'histoire litteraire digne de ce nom l'immense litterature des voyages, si indissociable soit-elle de la geographie et de l'ethnographie, si encombree soitelle de ternes publicistes ou de globe-trotters qui s'improvisent ecrivains. (2)

When, forty years ago, Marcel Bataillon urged authors of manuals of literary history to bear in mind the large corpus of travel literature, he admitted that hodoeporics often appeared too uncomfortably encroaching upon other areas to be considered a subject of literature on its own merit. It looked too entangled to be assessed independently and interfered with other literary genres that begged to be classified and appraised by their specific characteristics. All forms of narrative have been postulated as involving, to a certain extent, a spatial and chronological displacement, yet the amorphous material that constitutes travel narrative begs a definition and classification that would improve on the present one, which is rather blurry. (2) As positive as it may look at first glance, Louis Marin's definition of travel narrative remains vague, for he postulates a monumental common denominator of the various forms of this narrative:
   un type de recit oU l'histoire bascule dans la geographie, oU la
   ligne successive qui est la trame formelle du recit ne relie point,
   les uns aux autres, des evenements, des accidents, des auteurs
   narratifs, mais des lieux dont le parcours et la traversee
   constituent la narration elle-meme; recit, plus precisement, dont
   les evenements sont des lieux qui n'apparaissent dans le discours
   du narrateur que parce qu'ils sont les etapes d'un itineraire. Sans
   doute ces etapes peuvent-elles etre marquees pas des incidents, des
   accidents et des rencontres, c'est-a-dire par l'autre espece
   d'evenements qui constituent le materiau du recit historique. (3)
   quoted in Pasquali 94).


In his seminal work on travel literature and the novel, Percy G. Adams had found the taxonomic problem of travel narrative quite hard to solve. Far from offering a clear definition of this genre, Adam's conclusions were only a series of litotes attempting to shed some light on this still rather murky area:
   The recit de voyage is not just a first-person journal. [...] It is
   not just prose.
   [...] It is not necessarily a story with a simple, uncontrived
   plot. [...] It is not just a set of notes jotted down each day or
   whenever the traveler has time. [...] It is not just an objective
   report. [...] [It] is not a branch of history any more than it is
   of geography. [...] [It] is, of course, not just an exploration
   report. [...] It is not a complete record of a journey. [...] It is
   not "subliterature" (Adams 1983, 280-281).


These restrictive expressions are not mutually exclusive nor are they to be taken as absolute statements, but they can hardly be considered definitions. Yet, some of Adams's conclusions could be useful as starting points for a discussion. There is no set form or genre of hodoeporics, for the travel writer "has a thousand forms and formulas from which to choose when writing the account of a trip, whether he intends to publish his account or not" (Adams 1983, IX). In order to attempt a taxonomy of this enormous wealth of material, we must look at the contents, not at the form. An analysis of some exemplary models of travel narrative could help our definition of what critics unanimously consider "un genere letterario instabile" (De Caprio 9), a "genre mal defini" (Wolfzettel 5) with "un statut epistemologique incertain" (Bertrand 10) or, more tentatively, a malleable genre constantly evolving towards the absorption of the production of other literary areas. As it has been recently argued, the disparity of all elements in this genre does not preclude an internal cohesion, "s'apparentant tantot au collage, tantot a la liste, tantot au recueil de fragments; [...] croisant les valeurs de l'utile et de l'agreable, celles du vrai, du vraisemblable, de l'imaginaire" (Mondada 219-220). Describing the world is a complex endeavor, but I believe that common sense can help us make intuitive distinctions between real and fictional writing. To paraphrase Jean-Francois Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition, a text may not amount to much, but it exists in a fabric of relations gradually acquiring more complex characteristics. My aim is to observe literary instances located at nodal points through which various messages have passed. These texts have taken new attributes and offered subsequent writers new sets of senders, addressees, and referents, underscoring new expressive parameters.

Herodotus' opsis : Eyewitnessing the Journey
   [He] measures the inhabited portion of the earth. (Strabo,
   Geography 2.5.4)


In the classical canon the corpus of hodoeporics includes poetic sagas, historical reports, and works of geography proper. Before automatically accepting all this material into what we call travel narrative, we must search for an objective method of classification. Literary sagas are unverifiable journeys whose toponyms involve sketchy geographical notions and a spotty chronology woven into a substructure of myths and legends. Their se low gradient of geography will lead us to exclude classics such as the Odyssey, the Aeneid, and most national epics, from a corpus of travel narrative. Geographic manuals, on the other hand, although more precise gazetteers of sites and itineraries, attain various levels of credibility. Works like Lucian's incongruous True Story are deliberately fictitious, akin to Astolfo's journey in Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, or Cyrano de Bergerac's L'autre monde.

Herodotus' History of the Persian Wars (5th century B.C.) was probably conceived as a geographical work like the Periegesis of Hecataeus of Miletus. The references in his History to the numerous journeys Herodotus undertook beyond the Mediterranean area and Pontus into Mesopotamia, probably even to Scythia make it, more than a book of history, the first text of travel narrative in the western world. Although, as an historian, Herodotus had no insight into the real causes of the momentous political changes he witnessed, he followed a clear method of inquiry, recording hearsay (akoe) as a basis of any information, but definitely favored eyewitnessing (opsis). His opsis, the observation of the world, confronting reality with the voice of his informers, became the standard of travel writing. The value of eyewitnessing was explicitly stated seventeen centuries later in Marco Polo's and Filippo Sassetti's narratives and remains a fundamental element in our discussion.

Strabo, a 1st-century B.C. geographer who, apparently, did not travel much, defined the ideal travel writer as "he who measures" the world (Geography 2.5.4). Despising travel liars who accepted any stories undiscriminatingly ("Everyone likes to boast about his voyages," 1.2.23), his "measuring" the world meant that the writer touched the world he saw. The connection between Greek writers and medieval Italian merchants could not be more striking, as Sassetti wrote centuries later ("vedere toccare scrivere," infra 15). At the beginning of our era, geography was already a complex science that involved mathematics and cartography, and the traveler's interest in personal and careful observation continued. Aware of cartographic details unknown to Strabo and new information, Pomponius Mela's De situ orbis (1st century A.D.) even mentioned the antichtones, the legendary inhabitants of the temperate zone south of the Equator thought to be unreachable to the people of the northern hemisphere. Eventually, with Pausanias' Description of Greece (2nd century A.D.) personal narrative evolved toward a sort of modern travel journal, with glimpses into the daily life of the Greeks, their folklore, legends, and local history. The traveler had already begun writing about his personal experience and opsis was firmly established as a sine qua non of travel writing.

Horace: Personal Hodoeporics and Poetry

Brundisium longoe finis chartoeque vioeque est.

It has been stated that the Roman pragmatic spirit preferred geography to travel. (1) Nothing is farther from the truth. Obviously, mass tourism in the modern sense did not exist in the ancient world, but even then large assemblies of Greek pilgrims gathered at the sites of pilgrimages (the periegesis in Delos mentioned by Thucydides 3, 105) and people of all social strata participated in religious tours (periodoi) and Panhellenic festivals in Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and Corinth. For the comfort of long-distance travelers, Cyrus had organized a service of relays joining Lydia and Phrygia, through Cappadocia,Cilicia and Armenia (Herodotus 5, 52), and Imperial Rome saw a great increase in the number of travelers thanks to an efficient network of roads (Andre-Baslez 23, 33, 119-246). (2) A search for a common denominator of travel narrative in Latin literature would undoubtedly have to begin with Horace's "Iter Brundisinum" (Sat. 1, 5), which is one of the earliest first-person narratives (commentarium) of an actual journey recorded by a real traveler.

A journal of the embassy of Moecenas, who was sent by Octavian from Rome to Brundisium in 38 BC in order to settle a political issue with Mark Antony, the "Iter Brundisinum" has all the qualities of a modern travel narrative. The author mentions by name the friends with whom he is traveling, the toponyms of his itinerary (Roma, Aricia, Appii Forum, Anxur, Fundi, Sinuessa, Capua, Beneventum, Trivicum, Rubi, Gnatia, and Brundisium), (3) offers a precise chronology of daily events ("dum oes exigitur, dum mula ligatur, / tota abit hora," 13-14), a chorography of the area south of Rome ("incipit [...] montis Apulia notos / ostentare," 77-78), geographic peculiarities of villages and towns ("venit vilissima rerum / hic aqua, sed panis longe pulcherrimus" 88-89), a description of ill-equipped inns ("hospitio modico," 2; "villula tectum / proebuit," 45-46, "lachrimoso non sine fumo," 80) infested by bothersome insects and cacophonous frogs ("mali culices ranoeque palustres," 14), fights among drunk country bumpkins (11-13), and even the description of a local fatuous ("insanus") dandy whom Horace is happy to leave behind (34-36). Horace records exact distances between cities ("milia [...] tria repimus," 25; "quattuor [...] viginti ... milia," 86); episodes of travelers' fatigue ("lassi," 37; "crudi," 49) and illness, including an ante litteram "Montezuma's revenge" ("hic propter aquam, quod erat deterrima, ventri / indico bellum," 7-8). He also meets other friends along the way ("Plotius et Varius [...] Vergiliusque," 40) and records local history ("locus a forti Diomede est conditus," 92). A mock-heroic invocation of the Muse (51-53) before the description of a verbal contest ("pugna") between two buffoons and the attempt to set up a one-night stand with a local girl, alas too shy ("hic ego mendacem stultissimus usque puellam / ad mediam noctem expecto," 82-83), give a facetious tone to this hodoeporicon, showing a definite intention to transform a realistic portrait of rural scenes into entertainment. Finally, as a surprisingly postmodern conclusion, the very last line of this narrative identifies the written text (charta) with the journey (via): "Brundisium longoe finis chartoeque vioeque est." It is a fascinating parallel with some very recent readings of the travel adventure as writing. "Voyager d'une certaine facon, c'est ecrire, [...] et ecrire c'est voyager," wrote Michel Butor, (4) linking his exploration of writing with traveling tout court. The white page offers the writer an infinite variety of paths, as the sea offers routes to sailors. The chosen path, the one recorded on paper, is what the reader will peruse; reading, traveling, and writing will begin and end at the beginning and end (finis) of the written text (charta). What more does one need to concede an unbroken literary connection between the Roman hodoeporicon and the postmodern analysis of travel narrative?

Early commentators suggested that Horace's "Iter" was inspired by a lost poem by Gaius Lucilius (ca. 180-103 B.C.) whose success prompted Julius Caesar to write a journal of his journey to Spain. If, as it seems, Horace cannibalized Lucilius' poetic narrative of a journey from Rome to Capua and Sicily, he may be the forerunner of the ubiquitous plagiarizing of a model, (5) another topos of early-modern travel narrative. After the "Iter Brundisinum" one cannot claim without qualification that "travel is very much a modern concept, signifying both commercial and leisure movement in an era of expanding Western capitalism". (6) It should not be a sin of lese critique for 21st-century scholars to acknowledge that Horace's hodoeporic model represented the watershed of a tradition that has constantly remained in the forefront of travel narrative. Classical models, albeit forgotten by some postmodern critics, still represent a valuable source of investigation. Textual analysis is often more useful than a theoretical inquiry based on a jargon-driven reflection brought forth by a political parti pris or the construction of artificial critical categories. Furthermore, other Latin texts (Ausonius' Mosella and Namatianus' De reditu suo are the best known examples) show a continuum between Horace and the 4th- and 5th-century travel narrative, which maintained an enormous success through Renaissance neo-Latin poetry. Petrus Lotichius Secundus and Hieronymus Balbus wrote about their journeys, followed by many writers, such as the well-traveled Dutch poet Nathan Chytraeus, (7) and Jacques Sirmond, a Jesuit scholar who penned a poetic hodoeporicum of his dramatic journey from a besieged Paris to Rome in 1590. (8) A personal account of true events, their travel narrative cleared the path to the modern recit de voyage.

Early Modern Merchants: "vedere e toccare e scrivere"
   Fiato [I peruse] qualche libretto delle novita d'India, del Verzino
   [Brazil] e della China, e mentre che io le leggo, fo mille
   castellucci [small projects] d'andarle la a vedere e toccare e
   scrivere" (Sassetti, 240).


If we are to sift the travel narrative texts according to the basic requirements we have accepted in our own journey through hodoeporics, we must disregard the medieval romans, as their heroes' questes are geographically questionable. Merchants and missionaries, however, address directly the reality of a foreign land and the alterity of the people they encounter; their texts are important for our consideration..

Marco Polo, whose narrative criteria greatly differed from ours, wrote a narrative, Il Milione, that has been subject, periodically, to revisionist criticism, but. part of his text remains plausible and even verifiable. If Polo's informers were not always as reliable as modern critics would like them to be, the author's intention to be "truthful and without lies" is clearly stated. Lack of verification is the weak link of hodoeporics (as well as history).
   Signori imperadori, re e duci, [...] vi contera il libro
   ordinatamente siccome Marco Polo [...] le conta in questo libro e
   egli medesimamente vide. Ma ancora v'ha di quelle con le quali elli
   non vide, ma udille da persone degne di fede, e pero cose vedute
   dira di veduta e l'altre per udita, accio che 'l nostro libro sia
   veritieri e sanza niuna menzogna. (103)


Marco Polo is aware of the impossibility to verify information about dangerous and far-away areas. His informers are trustworthy ("persone degne di fede") and his readers should trust them as well. Polo's uniqueness is at stake, for nobody in human history has seen so many "maravigliose cose del mondo [...] poi che Iddio fece Adam insino al di d'oggi" (104). His text is full of syntagms related to the "marvelous" and "incredible" realities he witnessed: "maraviglia a vedere," "cose cosi mirabili," "maraviglia a credere," "maraviglia a udire," "a pena si poterebbe credere," etc. (9)

"Vedere" and "udire" are the major activities of travelers to far away lands. With Filippo Sassetti, a 16th-century Florentine merchant and humanist who like Polo traveled to Asia, "udire" and "credere" are replaced by "vedere e toccare e scrivere," new descriptive parameters that underscore the humanist's individualistic independence. As a merchant, the traveler is bound to objective observations, for he buys and sells real merchandise to authentic customers for a concrete profit. An individual deeply anchored in an objective vision of a world which distrusts fiction and tales, Sassetti owes his readers the truth; and they are, like him, real individuals who risk concrete investments.

It was in Venice that the tradition of mercantile writing blossomed, a fertile terrain where experienced individuals who had "measured" the immensity of the world were ready to share their knowledge of lands and peoples. Josafa Barbaro proudly stated this corollary function of Venetian merchants' narratives: without his fellow merchants a great portion of the world "saria incognita, se la mercanzia e marinarezza, per quanto e stato il potere de' Veneziani, non l'avesse aperta" (Barbaro 485). And Barbaro had at his disposal a wealth of knowledge accumulated by traveling Venetians and distilled in portolani, descriptions, and notebooks on marketing techniques. All in all, the mercantile prospective is fundamental in Venetian travel writing. Its style, precise and reliable, appears also in the relazioni of Venetian ambassadors to the Senate, reporting in business-like concision their observations of the host countries. There is no idle talk in their reports that were kept in the archives of the Republic as important state documents. (10) But even in mercantile writings, where the value of the information imparted to the reader (utile) is strictly related to the useful truth (verum) of the narrative, the dulce never disappears. Ambrogio Contarini penned his Viaggio di Persia (1473) for the enjoyment of his family, so that "il dar notizia d'un tanto e si lungo viaggio possa esser dilettevole e utile a' nostri discendenti" (preface), and Nicolo di Conti inserted pleasant details to amuse his readers ("quivi trovo una usanza piacevole, della quale sol per far ridere non volse restar di dire quanto vidde e intese"). The merchant is slowly turning into a storyteller, focused on the marvelous to maintain his readers' interest. Just like exempla in a medieval sermon, Josafa Barbaro's "unbelievable" facts ("cose che paiono incredibili") creep into this travel narrative:
   Essendo al presente astretto da preghiere di chi mi puo comandare,
   e avendo inteso che molto piu cose di queste, che paiono
   incredibili, si truovano scritte in Plinio, in Solino, in Pomponio
   Mella, in Strabone, in Erodoto, e in altri moderni, com'e Marco
   Polo, Nicolo Conte, nostri veneziani, e in altri novissimi, com'e
   Pietro Quirini, Alvise da Mosto e Ambrosio Contarini, non ho potuto
   far di meno che ancora io non scriva quello che ho veduto. (Barbaro
   485-486)


A new generation of merchants enjoy pure curiosity and the excitement of discovery. Filippo Sassetti's challenging return voyage from India, is open to new experiences in the spirit of Dante's Ulysses:
   nel ritorno vorrei concedere al senso la sperienza di quello che ci
   e di rimanente: pero che partirsi di qui senza vedere Malacca,
   Molucco e la Cina, mi parrebbe che fusse d'una cena molto splendida
   non gustarne se non el pane che si mangia comunemente ogni giorno.
   (Sassetti 532: letter of February 10, 1586 from Cochin, near
   Madras)


Dante's influence on Sassetti is obvious. Ulysses's "orazion picciola" to his fellow seamen (Inferno 26:113-120) underscores Sassetti's identification of his return journey with Ulysses's mythical voyage. Looking ahead to great discoveries of what is beyond ("il rimanente"), Sassetti's travel "sperienza" is associated with the sensorial excitement ("concedere al senso") of sailing around the world to places yet to be found. Travel narrative is gaining complexity, and Sassetti's goal ("vedere e toccare e scrivere") offers enjoyment to traveler and reader alike. Looking at his body and age ("di quarantasei anni e di statura di corpo che amerebbe meglio el riposo che pensieri di nuovi travagli," 533), Sassetti realizes the great pleasure ("quanto diletto mi abbia recato el vedere questa parte") he reaped from traveling through the splendid theater of the world. Now he can spread his own "diletto" to a wide readership, for anyone who has time and health, is not afraid of traveling in terrible conditions, and has a small familiarity with writing could pen fabulous tales. Barely two months after his arrival in India, Sassetti realizes his vocation; four thousand leagues away from home, he finds himself in an incredible world ("tanta diversita che io mi maraviglio della maraviglia," 387) and concludes: "chi fusse sicuro di viver molto, avesse molto da spendere, volesse molto travaglio e avesse buona cognizione delle buone lettere, scriverebbe maraviglie" (387; letter of January 20, 1584 from Cochin). It reminds us of Antonio Pigafetta's dazzling Viaggio atorno il mondo, published in 1550 by Ramusio in his Navigationi et viaggi. In Pigafetta, as in Sassetti, keywords like "meraviglia," "meravigliare," and "meraviglioso" underscore a narrative strategy that wil inevitably lead to fictional writing. The real explorer's account "reads like a novel" and is a foretaste of a new genre to come.

Verifiable Displacements: Ambassadors, Cardinals, and Their Secretaries
   Ho incontrato un viaggio di otto mesi continui ripieno di dispendii
   ed incomodi indicibili, per la strettezza di tutte le cose levate
   dalla corte e dagli eserciti fra'' quali conveniva camminare. Mi ho
   trovato aver la maggior parte de' miei ammalati, alcuni me ne sono
   morti; ho convenuto lasciar per il cammino diversi cavalli, e nel
   mio particolare ho sentito patimento tale che solo la bonta del
   Signore Iddio e quell'ardore che aveva nel servizio valse a
   preservarmi. Mi sono astenuto da portare alla notizia delle
   Eccellenze Vostre con mie lettere simili particolari, e di
   supplicarle di quel benigno aiuto con che cortesemente sono stati
   sovvenuti tutti gli altri loro ambasciatori, per non apportarle
   molestia e non far diminuire in alcuna parte l'intiero della mia
   obbligazione nello spendere la vita e le sostanze nel loro servizio
   (Pietro Contarini, "Relatione di Francia" in Relazioni degli
   ambasciatori veneti: VI: Francia, a cura di L. Firpo, Torino, 1978,
   p. 561).


Upon returning from a mission abroad, it was customary for Venetian ambassadors to present to the Senate an official relazione, a summary of the state of the country where they had been. It was a political analysis, completely impersonal and objective, offering rare glimpses of the ambassador's grueling life on the road. The preceding quote is one of such atypical moments. The reader cannot fail to see that the "incomodi indicibili" Contarini mentions are a set of verifiable instances. Ambassadors had to justify their expenses in detail, for the Venetian accounting was precise and unforgiving. Contarini is a splendid example of an ambassador-on-the-road, and we have been able to study the journals of his travels to Turin, London, Madrid, and Rome. (11)

Zancan's statement ("Ogni relazione ha alla propria base l'esperienza di un viaggio," 625) begs the obvious, for people who travel write about what they see. The typical relazione written by Venetian ambassadors and read to the Senate when they returned after a tour of duty abroad was a model of objective analysis of the foreign reality they witnessed. The Republic was so interested in their report that it provided them with a detailed plan to follow:
   Queste cose si ricercano per fare una relazione. Prima descrivere
   il sito della provincia nella quale sara stato, anteponendo
   principalmente il nome antico e moderno della detta provincia,
   mostrando in qual parte del mondo et in che disposizione del cielo
   si ritrovino i suoi confini dalle quattro parti, la sua larghezza e
   circuito, in quanti e quali regni o provincie minori sia divisa,
   nondimeno nominando le citta principali, le fortezze, arcivescovati
   e vescovati, gli fiumi principali e villaggi, gli monti e selve e
   gli passi circonvicini ad essa pertinenti.

   Bisogna trattare delle qualita di essa provincia, come sarebbe a
   dire della temperatura dell'aere, bonta e tristizia; delle acque e
   della bonta loro similmente e tristizia; della fertilita o
   sterilita delle biade et altre cose, se pertinenti al vivere umano;
   delle miniere, degli animali; se il paese e montuoso, piano,
   selvoso, paludoso, e dove; qual parte sia meglio abitata et in qual
   parte siano selve o paludi che impediscono l'abitarvi, e se vi e
   alcun meraviglioso effetto di natura.

   Conviene ragionare degli abitatori suoi, mostrando gli loro costumi
   et abiti, di che colore, statura o disposizione siano; se sono
   religiosi, superstiziosi e di altra particolare religione; l'ordine
   et apparato delle guerre per terra e per mare. Delle loro arti, et
   in che piu si esercitano e vagliano; quali merci mandano fuori e
   pigliano da' forestieri; del governo delli primi principi o
   padroni, di loro ricchezze, nobilta e seguito; delle nature e
   condizioni della plebe.

   Bisogna venire al particolare del principe e narrare la genealogia
   sua, descrivendo la persona, la vita che fa et i costumi suoi, come
   sia amato da' suoi sudditi, quante siano le sue entrate e quante
   spese facci; la guardia che tiene, la grandezza della sua corte e
   con qual principe abbia amicizia o inimicizia. (12)


This set of observations offered the writer a trace to follow; by comparing his relazione with the ones of previous ambassadors, the Senate could monitor the political evolution of Venice's relationship with other countries.

When Girolamo Lando left Venice for England on October 6, 1616, he asked his manservant, Ortensio, to pen a narrative of daily events:
   io Ortensio, suo fidelissimo servitore, fui accettato da Sua
   Signoria per mastro di camera; pertanto mi esposi di fare questo
   nobile e degno viaggio per poter poi mettere in carta una giusta
   relatione e informatione delli paesi e loro costumi. (13)


Initially intended as a "giusta relatione e informatione" of foreign peoples and mores, Ortensio's text became eventually a document to be used by the ambassador to justify of his travel expenses. Double-checked by the ambassador, actor and witness of the details narrated, Ortensio's narrative must be truthful and complete, (14) for the writer had little leeway for embellishment. This is an "autobiographie deleguee," as Adrien Pasquali called it, (15) just like Horace's "Iter Brundisinum."

Closer to our time, before starting a long European tour in 1517, Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona asked Antonio de Beatis to join his retinue in order to
   accuratamente scrivere, giornata per giornata, loco per loco, et
   miglia per miglia, quante citta, terre et ville continuamente se
   cavalcavano, con annotamento particulare de tucte le cose digne
   [che] li trovavamo. (16)


Proud of being a part of that "solazevole itinerario", De Beatis assures his reader

that he "non trovera altro che verita de le cose, over da me oculatamente viste o relate da persone di auctorita grande et degne di ogni credito e fede."

Good secretaries hide behind their masters, giving them credit and taking pride in their humble service for, as Cesare Magalotti wrote in the dedication of his "Viaggio di Francia" (1624) of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, "le azioni sono di chi le fa e non di chi le scrive." (17) Their travel narratives could be classified as "supervised narratives," double-checked by their superiors, directly or indirectly, immediately or after the journey. The best known of these narratives, Montaigne's Journal de voyage en Italie, has been analyzed by scholars who have attempted to define Montaigne's role in shaping the text. A lesser known narrative, written when De Beatis was writing the European hodoeporics of Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona, springs to mind. The travel journal of an anonymous Milanese merchant visiting his partners in various European countries (18) shows a indirect, almost self-made control, for his journal is a guide for other merchants about to undertake the same journey. The itinerary includes the daily distances, names the inns where he stops, the churches where he prays, even the bordelli where he seeks entertainment. Since other travelers of the same firm will soon follow in his path, it is obvious that he must provide a truthful report.

At times the travel journal is going to establish a protocol and detail a series of public ceremonies that in similar circumstances other diplomats will have to follow. An ironclad documentation is therefore required. When Flavio Cardinal Chigi, nephew to Pope Alexandre VII, went to the court of Louis XIV as legatus a latere to offer the official apologies of the pope after a diplomatic incident, he was aware of the delicate situation of his mission and the fastidious ceremonial of seventeenth-century courts, where the steps taken by a host accompanying a high-ranking visitor needed to be counted and remembered. Chigi left Rome with a copy of the journal written by Cesare Magalotti during a similar journey by Francesco Cardinal Barberino forty years earlier, and the cardinal addressed almost daily dispatches to Rome, asking the Secretary of State to clarify his legalistic queries. (19) It is a rare situation, but by no means unusual, for it is an established custom that the parties attempting to follow a protocol must rely on previous solutions; their faithfulness to a truth that is observed by their adversaries must be absolute and the documentation we have is enormous.

Once more, the chronicle of daily events takes various shapes, according to the generic definition of the narrative. It is obvious that the dignity of an ambassador demands a legalistic text, and the dignity of the narrative tends to exclude any interference of pleasantries or fiction.

Erasmus' Travel Letters: Narrative As Entertainment

There is a close relationship between travel narrative and epistolary literature, for a letter, according to Erasmus, is an exchange of personal news ("significamus amico si quid novae rei gestum sit apud nos aut quod illi voluptatem sit allaturum, sive privatum sit illud, sive publicum" in "De extraordinariis generibus epistolarum" in De conscribendis epistolis in Opera omnia, I, II, 541). (20) A letter, therefore, must have simplicity, clarity, brevity ("nunciatio simplex et lucida esse debet, brevis praeterea et distincta," I, II, 541). It was a time-honored formula established by Demetris of Phaleron, a 4th-century B.C. Greek rhetorician in his Peri Ermeneias (On Style): "A letter's aim is to express friendship briefly, and set out a simple subject in simple terms". (21)

Letters express a vivid hic et nunc experience that leaves no suspicion as to their truthfulness. Ovid's claim that some of the elegiac letters of his Tristia were written on a fragile ship, during the anguished voyage that brought him to exile. They were, obviously, fragments meant to ring true, and readers would not argue with the oath that he wrote "inter fera murmura ponti," shivering through a December storm that wet the paper on which he wrote ("ipsaque ceruleis charta feritur aquis"):
   Littera quaecumque est toto tibi lecta libello,
      est mihi sollicito tempore facta viae.
   Aut haec me, gelido tremerem cum mense Decembri,
      scribentem mediis Hadria vidit aquis. (Tristia I, 11, 1-2)


But letter writing is also a time-honored literary device. Cicero and his Renaissance imitators created an "art of epistolography" akin to fictional autobiography, rewriting real letters and fabricating new ones for publication, portraying themselves in a favorable light.

At home in the intellectual circles of many countries, Erasmus was familiar with European roads from London to Rome, from Rotterdam to Paris and Basel. A scholar of classical literature and biblical exegesis, well known to ecclesiastics, politicians, and philologists, he was sought-after by admirers wherever he went. Even German customs clerks, if we believe his account of an episode that occurred when his boat stopped in Boppart, (22) were excited they spotted him. Like Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus was at ease in front of university classrooms in Paris, Rome, Bologna, or Cologne, yet familiar with the dangers of early-Renaissance travels. In a letter to Pope Adrian VI, his old friend who had asked him to join him in Rome, Erasmus declined the invitation, emphasizing the ugly details of a previous journey from the Low Countries to the Eternal City:
   Longum est iter, ut iam tutum sit, per nivosas Alpes, per
   hypocausta, ad quorum odorem exanimor, per sordida et incommoda
   diuersoria, per acria vina, ad quorum gustum ilico periclitor.
   (Letter no. 1352, March 23, 1523)


A letter Erasmus wrote to Beatus Rhenanus (about October 15, 1518) is one of the most engaging travel narratives of the Renaissance. The definition (tragicomoedia, in Letter no. 867, 15 October 1518) given by the author himself offers the writer's own interpretation of this narrative. It is indeed a hodoeporicon with a happy ending (comoedia), an account of difficult roads, dangerous engagements with thieves, and even the fear of being struck by the plague. Like most of Erasmus' letters, under the pretense of a private conversation, this is a made-for-the-public document, a revised account in which the author acknowledges the many friends he encountered, alludes, tongue-in-cheek, to his health problems ("mollis etiamnum ac languidulus"), and pays tribute to acquaintances and patrons in a conversational style reminding of Horace's humilis sermo to Maecenas. His text even includes a peppering of Greek words that shows off a proud Hellenistic background and his adherence to Cicero's epistolary model.

Erasmus' hodoeporics contain the same narrative elements we have noticed in Horace's "Iter Brundisinum": the first-person account, the realistic referentiality of the journey itself, with specific dates, distances, and toponyms, a chronology of facts, names, events, and dangers witnessed during the displacement. There is also a light-hearted attitude about danger, another typical characteristic of travel narrative. Like Horace, Erasmus emphasizes subjectivity: the abundance of realistic details, the use of direct speech patterns, the numerous asides and parentheses, the references to personal events, as if gossiping with close friends. Some of Erasmus' Colloquia, particularly "Diversoria," "Naufragium," and "Peregrinatio religionis ergo," should be added to his travel narrative, for their numerous vignettes of real travel occurrences. The realistic description of the interior of a German inn ("Diversoria") is a lively account of taste and smell and one of the most striking sketches of 16th-century travel narrative.

By now one can conclude, provisionally, that hodoeporics transcends any generic distinction, accepting among its sub-categories poetry, letters, vignettes of real life, even short stories. All we need is just a real travel experience.

Petrarch, Alberti and Coulon: Collecting Objective Information
   Quid varietatem ac numerum historiarum, quas vel de
   veterum monumentis vel de recentium scriptorum libris collegisti
   memorem? Et omnibus in locis quae digna cognitu intercidunt
   pulchritudinem et copiam explicem? (From a letter by Giovanni
   Antonio Flaminio to Leandro Alberti [May 1, 1537] as a preface
   to Alberti's Descrittione di tutta Italia)


Among the first Italian writers to attempt an objective description of a journey, Petrarch's Itinerarium breve de Ianua usque ad Ierusalem et Terram Sanctam appears, as its title implies, a real itinerary, addressed to a "vir optimus" (3.1), probably a Guido da Mandello who intended to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Towards the end of his narrative, however, Petrarch admits that his goal in writing this text was to offer his friend a guidebook more than a personal travel narrative: "Nil iam restat memoriale quod quidem non meminerim" (17.1). Precise toponyms and information illustrating sites from Genoa to Naples, an area Petrarch knew reasonably well, gradually decrease as he continues his virtual journey south of Naples. He relies solely on literary sources, and confesses that he has not seen, and probably will never see, many of the sites he describes ("ea certe necdum vidi omnia, nec umquam forte visurus sum," 3.1). His text is more concerned with his reader's spiritual welfare ("primum [...] ad salutem anime," 3.2) than traveling needs ("que ad notitiam rerum et ingenii ornamentum," 3, 2). Finally, as a sort of postmodern conclusion that evokes Horace's link between charta and via (see supra, 12-13), a land-bound Petrarch relates Guido's long voyage by sea and foreign land to his own writing. (23) Both have been working hard: Guido plowing the sea for three months with oars ("remis [...] maria"), Petrarch plowing the blank paper with his pen ("ego hanc papirum calamo properante sulcaverim," 18, 2). (24) The preeminence of the intellectual over the man of action, however, is clear. In three days of strenuous writing Petrarch has covered the territory Mandello traveled during three months ("certe ego iam scribendi fatigatus sum eoque magis quo celerius incessi; quod enim iter tu forte tribus vix mensibus, hoc ego triduo consummavi," 18, 2). And, as Mondello still has to return, Petrarch can go back to his favorite otium ("michi ad mea studia," 13.3), leaving the traveler to his dangerous fate. (25)

There is an encyclopedic strand (26) in geographic writing that underscores the extensive preparation of the travel writer. Leandro Alberti had collected an enormous amount of material from various sources (ancient as well as contemporary) before writing his Descrittione di tutta Italia, a work that enjoyed an immense success among 16th-century travelers to Italy. As Flaminio aptly pointed out, Alberti's work provides his fellow travelers with all the necessary information ("quae digna cognitu") about Italy in a beautiful and rich text ("pulchritudo et copia") which eventually became the guidebook for the most discerning travelers to Italy.

Although Petrarch's Itinerarium is not in the mainstream of travel writing, we know of many 16th-century examples of guidebooks thinly disguised as real itineraries. Well researched, complete, objective in their wealth of information, rich in details pertaining to history and archaeology, artworks and inscriptions, they are a mixture of compilation and field observations, offering practical details pertaining to business, civil engineering, strategic and shipping problems, dangers of political instability, and medical considerations. They were written for friends and business partners, and, unlike Petrarch, their authors had traveled to the places they described. But, just as in modern guidebooks, often their terse prose made no attempt to be narrative or autobiographic.

Alberti's Descrittione di tutta Italia fits into this pattern. His travel narrative is reduced to a thin tread tying together long compilations to introduce the readers to the place he is about to enter. At times, Alberti offers a glimpse of personal narrative, as in his description of the Grotta in Posillipo. After quoting Columella and Strabo, the classical authorities on the history of the tunnel that connects Naples with the Phlegraean Fields, he emphasizes his direct involvement in this visit: "la qual io curiosamente volendo vedere, la misurai e la ritrovai esser larga oltre di dodici piedi et altro tanto alta" (italics mine). For a brief moment the reader is brought into the realm of "vedere e toccare e scrivere," the core of perfect travel narrative, but Alberti is distracted by other interests, and before entering that tunnel he seems to have forgotten his aim and keeps on quoting a wealth of classical and modern sources: Seneca, Razano, fra Zenobio Acciaiuolo, Livius, Servius, Plutarch, Paolo Giovio, and Flavio Biondo. Exiting the grotta, there is not a word about his personal impressions, just an allusion to his overwhelming curiosity: "Passando io, volsi il tutto curiosamente vedere" (161v-163r). Checking and reporting everything is indeed the extent of his curiositas.

Like Alberti, Louis Coulon offers a guidebook, L'Ulysse francois, ou Le Voyage de France, de Flandre et de Savoye (1643). A pleasant mix of anecdotes, historical information, and realistic bits on what to see and do around French-speaking countries, L'Ulysse starts with the departure from England of a plausible anonymous individual (an "Ulysse Gallo-Belgique," 2) who intends to visit "les plus belles places du monde" (2). Our Ulysses,an ante litteram Joycean character, stops at the border to state his identity ("son nom, ses qualites et ses occupations"), declares the goods he is carrying ('un inventaire de tous les meubles qu'il porte avec soy"), and spends the night in a real inn in Calais ("La Sirene Sauvage"). Very soon, alas, Coulon loses sight of this character. The story of Ulysses' travel is an obvious strategy to entice his readers. "Notre voyageur" is Ulysses and the reader and the third-person pronoun "il" is applied to both ("il monte dans un vaisseau, [...] il se trouve le lendemain," 2; "il prit la route, [...] il s'arresta [...], il entra dans la ville," 34). There is a confusion of tenses, for both present and past are used, as if there is uncertainty whether to describe the trip undertaken by Ulysses or that which is being now performed by the reader himself. A stylistic analysis shows that Coulon uses various subject pronouns and traveler, reader, and writer are identified by a vague je ("ie scais bien," 6; "ie finis cette description," 10; "ie ne peux obmettre," 13; "ie passe vite," 49), an undetermined on ("on va souper," 4; "on prend son logis," 12; "on monte a cheval ou en carosse," 15), a generous nous ("nous aurions de la peine," 27; "nous verrons," 42; "nous fusmes tres mal loges, [...] nous reprismes nos armes," 217), even prescriptive vous ("vous avez de plus," 42) and il faut ("d'Amsterdam il faut venir a Utrecht, qui sont cinq lieues de chemin fascheux a cause des rivieres qu'il faut traverser," 163), and a combination of expressed or understood pronouns ("ayans veu la ville, voyons les fauxbourgs; vous avez le Banc sur la main gauche," 89).

Coulon's attempt to set a chronology of the journey fails miserably after his statement that on May 1 "Ulysses" has landed (from where?) in Calais (4). The writer/traveler moves freely around the Continent and the only chronologic marker is the number of days he spends in each city. As in all travel journals, the toponyms are at the core of the story, enhanced by the names of the inns where the travelers stopped for the night and the appraisals of the quality of food and condition of lodging: a touch of realism in an otherwise flat text.

While Petrarch's Itinerarium is totally unrelated to a geographic displacement, the extensive research by Leandro Alberti and Louis Coulon shows that under the often cumbersome classical quotes there lay details of a personal nature. The presence, albeit scarce, of subjective narrative in these works prevents us from classifying them as mere guidebooks, but they are far from being travel narratives. And the fact that the best modern guidebooks, from the "Blue Guides" and Michelin to the splendid TCI's "Guide Rosse," maintain a layer of subjective appreciation of sites and artwork makes our task of defining hodoeporics even more difficult.

Travel Diary to Hodoeporic Novel: Sebastiano Locatelli's "vagabonde leggerezze"
   In tutti i resoconti di viaggio circola un'intenzione letteraria mai
   completamente rimossa (Cardona 692).


By definition, a travel diary is the journal of the daily occurrences in an individual's journey, jotted down usually at the end of each day. (2) It reflects the spontaneity of the author's impressions and can at times contain factual misconceptions that the author might wish to correct at a later date. It is extremely rare for modern scholars to find original diaries, particularly for 16th- and 17th-century journeys. Written under stress, on fragile tablets and in conditions that affected their legibility, they have usually been superseded by the reshaping of the original notes, rewritten during a pause in the journey or after the author's return home. (3) The writer who revised a text for publication could not risk leaving to posterity a written proof of the lies that he inserted in the final version of his travelog. Thus, the original conveniently disappeared, leaving room for a better, improved version, ready to be offered to numerous readers.

So a portion of the journal of Sir Thomas Hoby's journey to Italy (1548-1550) was penned in the winter of 1554-1555 during Hoby's stay in Padua, where he had come to study. Hoby used the original notes taken during his trip, adding material pillaged from a number of guidebooks. It was a typical modus operandi. John Evelyn's Kalendarium, a major example of personal journal and travel diary in 17th-century English literature, "consists not of Evelyn's original notes, but of his later transcripts of them" (I, 121) and was supplemented with information he gathered from numerous printed sources. His account of the French portion of his journey was proved to be largely based on Claude de Varennes's Le Voyage de France (1643), which, in turn, was taken from Justus Zinzerling's Itinerarium Galliae (1617). These and other sources were used also by Sebastiano Locatelli for his Viaggio di Francia, an account of a journey that occurred in 1664-1665, but underwent at least three major rewritings between 1666 and 1693. Its third and final version we found (but is there a "final" version of a work that is constantly in progress throughout the author's constant reshaping of his own life story?) (4) shares little with the first extant text.

From Hoby to Locatelli, most 16th- and 17th-century travel writers visit the same sites in Europe, read the same guidebooks, and when they revise their notes for publication tend to mingle their private narrative with objective descriptions borrowed from the same sources. Their accounts bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, since the sources they use are intended to improve and enhance the writers' limited understanding of the political and social climate of the countries they have visited.

Locatelli's Viaggio di Francia, however, has a more complex genesis. Defined by its author as a congeries of "vagabonde leggerezze" (43) and "spro-positi della [sua] penna giovanile" (44), it displays a stylistic sprezzatura that runs the gamut from a self-deprecating jocularity to a not-so-secret desire to enhance his reputation among his readers ("la pubblica curiosita de' nostri congiunti"). Lacking international savvy, Locatelli, a small town priest with grand ambitions for a career in Rome, embarked on his writing exercise to offer sedentary travelers the joy taking a trip without leaving their homes ("fare un si lungo viaggio sedendo," 46). (5) His journey to France, a trip that many small-time peddlers undertook periodically at that time, (6) has been transformed into an odyssey of grand proportions. Abbe Locatelli is very good at hiding the sources he has so shamelessly pillaged: Franz Schott's Itineraria Italiae rerumque romanarum allows him to show off what he has never learned about art, history, and Roman antiquities in the Italian cities he visits, and Claude de Varenne's Voyage de France provides him with a general introduction on French customs and laws (32-34).

Locatelli's journal would still be a tedious diary of minor interest to us, but for thirty years he kept expanding his anemic travelog into three versions, creating a baroque literary theatrum in which he played the role of an international character who moves in aristocratic circles, speaks to Louis XIV, is entertained by princesses, and observes local customs, and kisses (chastely, of course) the most beautiful ladies in France. His Viaggio di Francia becomes a collection of grand adventures. Forgetting that he has acknowledged his total ignorance of French, he portrays himself as the confidant of aristocrats and inserts in his narrative the love stories they have whispered to him. When his return to Italy is interrupted by a quarantine, he even uses his free time, alas, to write a tragedy. A man for all seasons and an entertainer par excellence, Locatelli's the last version adds new details and creates for himself a towering presence.

Seventeenth-century travel narrative has close ties with novels. Readers needed to "devour with pleasure" books that would offer distraction and entertainment, as in Francois Bertaud's Journal de voyage d'Espagne (1669), which offered the readers "des choses aussi curieuses qu'il y en ait en pas une histoire, et d'aussi agreables qu'il y en ait en aucun roman." Bertaud's publisher in an introduction to the readers specified that travel narrative fitted somewhere in between novels and history. Fiction suits reasonably well hodoeporics as long as there is a healthy level of verisimilitude ("vraisemblance"). The critic cannot possibly comb all the facets of a recit de voyage in order to find small minors discrepancies, for many personal details will always remain unverifiable. Exaggerations, inaccuracies, plagiarisms, inventions, and lies are natural elements in a any travel narrative, and the intelligent reader should be suspicious of most improbable details.

With Locatelli and Bertaud we enter a new area of travel narrative. Seventeenth-century hodoeporics has accepted a healthy dose of fiction, probably because writers thought that their real journeys had insufficient appeal for their readership. Their accounts had to cater to a curious public who demanded exciting stories, vaguely related to a New World whose exotic charme was often, and unabashedly, a figment of the writer's imaginationas. After all, as Du Perier admitted, the aim of his story was just "donner du contentement aux belles dames." (7) Bertaud's journal was based on the misguided assumption that "il ne se passe point de jour dans tout un voyage ou il n'arrive quelque avanture et ou l'on ne voye quelque chose d'extraordinaire" (Bertaud, IV). (8) The result of such a process, as Francois Bertaud's publisher admitted in 1669, is a hybrid genre, "un genre metoyen entre [les romans] et [les histoires], en ce qu'ils ne traitent que les avantures des particuliers, comme les romans, mais avec plus de verite et plus d'exactitude encore que les histoires" (Ibid.).

We can easily deny plausibility to a narrative such as Du Perier's, in which lions and tigers, fountains and castles appear in the wilderness of Canada. He injected blatant fiction in a world where none of his readers had ever been. But what should we do about travel narratives that present details less conspicuous than giants in Patagonia or tigers in Canada? Is absolute truth the litmus test to separate travel narrative from works of fiction?

"Letters from Italy"/"Lettres de l'Italie": 18th-Century Travel Epistolography

While 18th-century naturalists and astronomers were setting sail to explore and map the Pacific Ocean, (9) a host of aristocratic and bourgeois Grand Tourists kept unperturbed their traditional visits to Europe's highlights, picking up a little culture on the way. After many 17th-century exotic narratives, (10) editorial repechages, (11) and an explosion of mendacious travel accounts (Adams 1962), European travelers of this "secolo mobilissimo" (Capucci 731) embarked in a re-discovery of Europe. Not all Grand Tourists were vapid individuals craving to hobnob with the local aristocracy; many of them were interested in exploring cultural differences with the same curiosity naturalists and cartographers studied the local flora or attempted to determine geographic coordinates.

Epistolography was the favorite medium of this period, not only for travel narrative, but for other forms of writing, from sentimental novels (12) to political (13) and religious pamphlets, to general advice for friends and relatives. (14) cursory glance at the catalogs of 18th-century printed books reveals hundreds of titles in French, English, Italian, and German, clearly proclaiming their choice of form ("Lettere," "Lettres," "Letters," "Briefe"). (15) But there were also works like Maximilien Misson's Nouveau voyage d'Italie, that hid in its title the fact that it was the first epistolary travel narrative published in France.

For a few centuries Italy had attracted so many scholarly visitors that 18th-century travelers were under the impression that nothing new could be written about her, as De Brosses wrote not without exasperation ( "Apres tout, que pourrai-je vous dire sur [l'Italie] qui ne fut un rabachage perpetuel?" II, 2). And letter-writing provided a means to underscore the personality of the narrator, a change, indeed, from old-fashion travelogs. With their light touch and self-deprecating humor, letters seemed to be the perfect solution to introducing the writer as well as the sites. The colloquial style favored by 17th-century travel writers, as we saw in Locatellli's Viaggio di Francia, became the chief element of 18th-century letter-writing, as Misson acknowledged: "les lettres, comme l'a fort bien dit M. de Balzac, sont des conversations par ecrit" (Misson, fo 4v), written in a "style concis, [...] libre et familier" (fo 6v).

As an appendix to his Nouveau voyage d'Italie (four editions from 1691 to 1702) Misson added a theoretical discussion of travel narrative, which for him it was essentially the story of a physical displacement. If this appears to beg the question, it was because too many travel narratives of the past were just a series of plagiarized vignettes on cities and countries, their art troves and political systems. Naturally, as all travelers did before him, Misson shamelessly pillaged his sources, added new letters after he returned home, expanded his original text, and criticized the ubiquitous sedentary travel writer, the "pretendu voyageur qui ne voyage point; il saute de ville en ville, en pillant ca et la ses mechans livres [...]; tout dur, tout aride, et mille choses inutiles et fausses" ("Avis au Lecteur"). Horace's fundamental instruction, delectare and prodesse, the writers' guiding motto, mirrored the instinctive tendency of the writer to "agrementer son texte" (Ibid.), sprinkling his text with a touch of fiction, a sure way indeed to gain readers.

Having determined that the description of a real journey was a sine qua non, Misson admitted that such "a relation veritable" would be more effective as a series of letters to his friends; the literary dignity of the epistolary form allowed him to insert erudite details, anecdotes of historical background, even hints of a socio-political analysis, all desirable elements for "les personnes cultivees" (16) for whom he wrote. In this effort to define the new genre, Misson's letters were intended as intelligent conversations among friends ("J'ai commerce de lettres avec un ami [...], et ce sont mes lettres que je publie," "Avis au Lecteur"). These "sujets d'agreable entretien dans les compagnies les plus sages" allowed the writer to avoid the stilted language of books, jump freely from one topic to another, go beyond the chronological order of the facts, engage in digressions, even use the colloquial formulas that add life to conversations: "puisque vous voulez savoir," "vous me demandez," "pour repondre aux questions que vous me faites," etc. The same digressions that would be censored by readers as incongruous in a treatise were deemed appropriate in letters. And Misson's book became the vademecum for travelers to Italy and the target of jealous travelers who corrected his mistakes, while his criticism of the Catholic Church incurred the anathemas of the Roman Inquisition. (17)

But the bienseance would not allow the author to deal with matters of mere private concern. An anonymous reviewer of Montaigne's Journal de voyage described it, acrimoniously, as nothing but "un manuel des eaux minerales de l'Italie [et] un releve des pierres que leur vertu a fait rendre a l'auteur." (18) And the anonymous editor of the Letters from Italy by an English aristocrat, Anna Riggs Miller (London: E. and Ch. Dilly, 1777), admitted in his preface that he had censored many "private" passages that were not considered "objects of information or entertainment to the public" (I, vi). Lady Miller's letters to "a friend residing in France" contained "whatever she should meet with during the period of their separation, curious or interesting; in the view of comparing her communications with the best modern travels of French or English publication,"(I, v).

Having thus created a plausible background, the truthfulness of the letter writer is undeniable, for "it [would be] a misuse of time to offer proofs of their authenticity, which shew so clearly and unequivocally through every page of these volumes" (I, vi). The "artless, ingenuous narration thrown on paper immediately [...] in the midst of fatigue, in moments unfavorable to precision, and unfriendly to reflection" (I, vi-vii) justifies the writer's stylistic platitudes, making allowances, as Anna Miller does on 20-21 September 1770, "for the inaccuracies of [her] letter, for the barrenness of the subject, and for want of that amusement" (I, 7). The "want of order" in her writing pleads for its "conformity to the truth, according to the best information we could procure" (I, 151). So she can interrupt her letters with tame excuses, whenever she runs out of new ideas ("Our host kindly advertises me that the post is going out. You see I do not neglect to seize every opportunity of writing. Adieu," I, 158) and emphasize her independence, understating her constant interest in the fashionable "picturesque" of what she calls "romantically beautiful"(II, 293). Like all intelligent travelers of her time, she discusses her sources, asserts the acuteness of her own observations, and condemns the mistakes made by others: "I have no reason to think that Lalande ever saw this church, but rather that he took his account from Cochin" (I, 122n); "Cochin says [...], but he is mistaken" (I, 109n); "Keysler makes a great mistake" (I, 126n); etc. While she uses her husband as an observer ("M-- had it from good authority," I, 139; "M-- has learnt for me," I, 140; etc.) to add political insights and classical details to her text (I, 219-234), Miller's own novelty is a thorough analysis of art masterpieces. Sensing, perhaps, the staleness of some of her observations, she lets slip, as a conclusion of "letter XXVI" this gloss: "This is the last church I shall mention, and I dare say you are not sorry for it" (I, 344).

The immense volume of of letters that invaded Europe's literary milieu, while underscoring their authors' implied claim to be eyewitnesses of a journey shows that the gradient of truth in travel writing was an intentional sine qua non.

Chateaubriand, Stendhal, and Flaubert: "Romancing" Travel Narrative
   Tout est vrai [...], mais tout y est commun; rien, ou presque rien
   ne valait la peine d'etre dit. (Stendhal, Melanges. II.
   Journalisme. Paris: Cercle du Bibliophile, 1972, XLVI, 67)


Criticizing a fashionable Parisian novelist, Stendhal solved for us some of the problems of truthfulness we have debated. Art is not essentially tied to the truth; in fact truth can be boring and banal. In travel writing nothing is routinely closer to the truth than a manual, yet nothing is farther removed from travel narrative than the precise and thorough account of whatever all a serious traveler must see. On the other hand, a good writer should give himself free rein to talk about what travel manuals do not usually mention: himself, other people, impressions and feelings, a sensuous gourmandise of sights, noises, and colors.
   Je m'ouvrais tout entier aux impressions qui survenaient, je m'y
   excitais et je les savourais avec une sensualite gloutonne; je me
   plongeais dans mon imagination de toutes mes forces, je me faisais
   des images et des illusions et je prenais tout mon plaisir a m'y
   perdre et a m'y enfoncer plus avant. (Flaubert, Voyage aux Pyrenees
   et en Corse, 297)


The subject/narrator and the object of its narrative is dramatically identified in this passage. Typically, je et moi have become one, intimately related in a self-referential, narcissistic fashion focused on the individual's intimate experience, savoring impressions, and drawing on them sensually. In the preface to his Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem, Chateaubriand remarked that his ego was the center of his narrative ("je parle eternellement de moi," II, 702), and Michelet recognized after a long tour of Germany in 1842: "Combien j'ai voyage en Jules Michelet, plus qu'en Allemagne." (19) Yet, to underline his travel experience as a series of direct observations, Chateaubriand introduced his Voyage en Amerique with a cumbersome history of travel throughout the ages. His trip was a momentous odyssey, comparable to the journeys of discovery of Hearne, Francklin, and Mackenzie. He wanted to appear like one of these "hommes isoles, abandonnes a leurs propres forces et a leur propre genie" (I, 664) and to leave no doubt that his narrative was truthful and honest ("les solitudes par moi decouvertes," "la route qu'on me verra prendre," II, 665-666).

The goal of the Romantic travel writer is basically the discovery of his own self as much as a quest in the outside world. In this realm of interior travel narrative, the critic should perhaps avoid looking for a strict verifiability of all the activities described and be content with the acceptance of mere plausibility. As for Chateaubriand, novelist, politician, adventurer, essayist, and the most conspicuous figure in the French literature of the First Empire, his ample travel-related production could only exemplify the Protean character of travel literature. (20) It shows also the difficulty in sorting and systematizing the mare magnum of human creativity in the area of hodoeporics. Chateaubriand traveled as an exile to Belgium and the Channel Islands, as a curious tourist to the wilderness of North America, as a diplomat to several posts in Europe, and finally to Italy, Greece and the Near East, looking for "local color" to add true life into his historical novels. He wrote extensively about his journeys, publishing his material firstly as travel notes and letters, then as "fillers" for his novels and historical writings, catching the exotic ambiance of the wilderness of America, and the dawn of Christianity. Eventually he recycled the same material in essays of political and ethnological import, (21) and did not shy away from plundering abundantly other writers, often re-editing and re-publishing his own texts whenever he needed money. As a magnificent travel liar, he successfully managed to confuse his biographers and critics who attempted to map the details of his geographical movements and their chronology. And when Chateaubriand was caught red-handed by readers who criticized his fantastic portraits of the Mohawks (they were no "noble savages," but a fearsome tribe) or his description of Florida (he never went there), he haughtily disdained to reply. Perhaps, as Sainte-Beuve suggested, the writer's historical faults ("inadvertences") should be forgiven as the abundant flow of "sentiment de la nature americaine." (22)

Chateaubriand's oft-mentioned and grandiosely naive desire to cross the American territory, reach the West Coast, and walk all the way to the Arctic Sea in order to find the famous North-Western Passage is another attempt to portray himself in larger than life size. It was an impractical dream, indeed, expressed while Lewis and Clark were still preparing their grueling expedition. It is an easy task for Chateaubriand's reader to sift through the immense corpus of his writings to ascertain the honest recording of his American narrative and the numerous examples of self-absorbed autobiographical sketches. (23) Although this is not the place to sort out the disarray of Chateaubriand's melange of genres and subgenres, the mention of this problem should warn the reader of the difficulty of coming to a conclusive definition of hodoeporics as a genre, at least in the traditional sense. That Chateaubriand's writings were also written as memorials to support his shifting political allegiances further adds to the generic confusion.

A few years after Chateaubriand, Henri Beyle, known as "M. de Stendhal" or "le comte de Stendhal" in his recits de voyage, mirrors a similar set of narrative problems. Like Chateaubriand, he used his notes de voyage abundantly in several successive publications. As it was for Chateaubriand, the chronology of Stendhal's numerous works is a spider web of self-referential notes and copious rewritings of all sorts. (24) Victor Del Litto's perceptive analysis of Stendhal's journaux de voyage underscored the fact that the French novelist "romanced" his journeys, transforming them almost into novels. In an effort to enhance his credibility and assemble a great number of truthful facts ("faits vrais," 410) Stendhal created several interlocutors, mostly aristocrats, who were supposed to be traveling along with him. (25) They volunteered their insights to add credibility to Stendhal's text while he kept writing a detailed journal narrative of a trip to Puglia and Calabria he never took.

In a 40-year old essay on Travelers and Travel Liars: 1660-1800, Percy G. Adams attempted to sort out the confusion created by the travel texts written explicitly to deceive their readers, "forcing enlightened readers such as Swift, Walpole, and Dr. Johnson to be skeptical about all voyage literature" (237). Adams noticed, with a certain vexation, that whenever egregious hoaxes were determined, the Library of Congress simply classified such books under the heading "Voyages, Imaginary," without defining them as patent lies. As Lucian wrote, a creator of wild travel narratives and an honest liar,
   Iambulus [...] invented a falsehood that is evident to anyone, yet
   wrote a story that is not uninteresting for all that (Lucian, A
   True Story, I, 3).


Everyman's Patagonia: "Lucidity of Loneliness" in the Farthermost Place
   Travel is at its best a solitary enterprise: to see, to examine, to
   assess, you have to be alone and unencumbered. [...] What is
   required is the lucidity of loneliness to capture that vision
   which, however banal, seems in my private mood to be special and
   worthy of interest (Theroux 168-169).


In his Patagonian Express Paul Theroux defines travel as "a solitary mission of discovery in a remote place" (391). Patagonia, the farthermost place from the northern hemisphere, is for him a region of the spirit, the antithesis of our cozy Heimat. (26) During a long career as a travel writer, Theroux embarked on a series of solitary journeys in various regions of the world, constantly looking for a private space away from the crowd, searching for a "lucidity of loneliness" (169) that allowed him to crystallize his impressions. In this process he described the flaws of contemporary travel books as "fatal insufficiencies" of a hybrid potpourri of geography and "potted history," a "kind of lifeless boasting about how far the writer had gone and what he ate." (27) He boarded a local train at Boston's Wellington Circle Station, heading to the tip of South America via a series of odd connections through the entire length of the continent and several months of solitude and adventure: "In this vagrant mood I boarded the first train [in Boston], the one people took to work. They got off; their train trip was already over. I stayed on; mine was just beginning." (6) He knew neither what he was looking for nor what awaited him; he craved a little risk, some danger, an untoward event, a vivid discomfort, in a nutshell, "the romance of solitude" (169). His loneliness gave him time to ponder and take notes; his disappearance from family and friends was "elemental, but few come back silent" (3). The returning traveler, burning with a sacred flame to tell, was finally able to utter all the words he had kept in his soul during his long journey.

Many travel writers are happy to telescope their readers in the middle of things, beaching them in a bizarre place without having first guided them there. (28) For Theroux "the lower slope of Parnassus" (4), as he defines the act of moving through a geographic displacement, is a gradual withdrawing from a known into an unknown environment, "the progress from the familiar to the slightly odd, to the rather strange, to the totally foreign, and finally to the outlandish. The journey, not the arrival, matters; (29) the voyage, not the landing" (5). Theroux ends his book where other travel books usually begin. As tautological as this may sound, his travel narrative is just about traveling, the displacement and the emotions it conveys, the surprise of places and people, and memories of previous readings. As soon as Theroux reaches Patagonia, his book (and his journey) ends, just like Horace's "longae finis chartaeque viaeque." The reader would like to know what makes this region so appealing to the author, but Theroux was only "interested in the going and the getting there" (383), the bittersweet pain of his daily struggle, logistic failures, and nostalgia. (30)

Like Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, engaged in traveling to many faraway, exotic places, was drawn to Patagonia for its mystery and isolation. Unlike Theroux, however, Chatwin never mentions how he went there. With great ease he walked, hitched rides, and found shelter in that immense, bleak territory,
   spending nights in the grass, in caves, in peons' huts, and
   sometimes between the linen sheets of an old-fashioned English
   estancia. On my back I carried a small leather rucksack containing
   a sleeping bag, a few clothes, [...] and half a bottle of vintage
   Krug to drink at the worst possible moment. (quoted in Shakespeare
   294)


His travelog, In Patagonia, an idiosyncratic patchwork of pilfered bits of local history and personal notes, offended many of Chatwin's eyewitnesses, who emphasized that he misrepresented much of what was said. That split of vintage champagne carried around in his rucksack, a Chatwinesque touch as the umbilical cord that connected him to his cozy home, was an improbable prop that separated a colonialist outsider from the unpalatable presence of the locals. Unencumbered by companions, Chatwin was also free from annoying eyewitnesses. The reader will never be able to prove what he actually did in his Patagonia. Chatwin reinvented his journey to create his own myth, transforming himself into an unquestionable deus ex machina who moved around without the usual traumas that all travelers encounter: "I quit my job in the 'art world' and went back to dry places: alone, travelling light," he write in The Songlines (18). Theroux was among the first critics to question the effortless ease of Chatwin's traveling ("How had he traveled from here to there? How had he met this or that person? Life was never so neat as Bruce made out," quoted by Shakespeare 310). In fact, one of his fellow travelers said that "travelling with Bruce was like travelling with your 88-year-old maiden aunt. No piece of luggage was ever good enough. The weather was never right" (Shakespeare 152). Yet, Chatwin wrote that, always unannounced, he felt "welcome anywhere" and never lacked a room or a meal or a stimulating audience with whom to share intelligent insights. In Shakespeare's biography, some of the people who met Chatwin described him as "another bum in search of a bed" who "didn't speak any Spanish and made no effort to be understood" (295-296). A charming conversationalist in English, Chatwin was a mute observer in Patagonia. We are left to wonder what really happened during his other trips and his conversations in those exotic African and Asian dialects!

Like most Romantic travelers, Chatwin has created a series of beautifully misleading tracks. But a question still haunts us: should the gradient of fiction affect our definition of travel narrative? If plausibility is its fundamental element, we may consider the fictional details of Chatwin's travelogs as poetic licences, much different from Theroux's painfully realistic journals. Chatwin's meditations on the human condition and his "jewelled prose of the upper-class English traveller" make his book on Patagonia "a more accomplished and decorative book that it is an interesting one"(Karl Miller quoted in Shakespeare 394-395). His travel narrative, lost in a farrago of genial intuitions and far-fetched ideas, particularly when he attempts to explain human restlessness in genetic terms, is highly entertaining. More dulce than utile, to keep Horace's literary classification, yet it should be admitted in the canon of travel literature.

Mapping the Journey/Translating the World (31)

The story of geographical displacements has been told through the ages in spoken and written words, alphabetical signs and sounds, conventions and signifiers that translate the experience of a physical reality for listeners and readers alike. Translating (from Latin, transferre (32)) implies transposing something (words, ideas, images) from somewhere into somewhere else, not just moving sentences from one language into another, but also physical realities into verbal utterances, as in Octavio Paz's expression: "aprender a hablar es aprender a traducir." (33) This statement, naturally, covers any kind of utterance, from children's cries of surprise to explorers' attempts to explain the surrounding world to an audience which has never left home. A visitor from a far-away place, ignorant of the local language, needs the help of an interpreter to decipher sites, translate conversations, lead through labyrinthine situations. This intermediary, cicerone, dragoman, or truchement, an ambiguous character in travel narrative, hated by the locals and suspicious to the traveler, is an essential facilitator who transfers notions and ideas from one culture to another. And travelers who return home become translators of some sort, mediators of a distant world for their listeners.

Physical entities can thus be transferred into the realm of spoken or written words or shaped into images and maps. Like words in traditional narrative, the language of cartography follows the classical definition "aliquid stat pro aliquo." As drawing an object indicates the concrete object itself, mapping a geographical entity implies that cartographers and readers have agreed to accept a complex set of conventions. The result underscores a specific relationship of an image with the world and will be subjected to the historical context that has produced it, its author's idiosyncrasies, prejudices, lies, and political agenda. Maps have always been political and military tools, (34) documenting conquered territories or potential areas to be taken from enemies, spying on adversaries and their wealth, particularly during the great explorations of the New World. (35)

In contemporary maps the size of typographic fonts is directly proportionate to the status or size of a city, but early modern maps used conventional graphic symbols to signify to the reader the importance of a city, whether it was walled and fortified or just a defenseless market town, having a cathedral or a simple parish church. In some old maps, however, conventional symbols coexisted with more visual images, as in this map of the well-traveled road from France to Italy through the mountains of Savoy between Chambery and Turin. [Fig. 1] The main road of the Val di Susa follows the Dora Riparia from Bussoleno to Avigliana (Villane), but a parallel valley is also indicated, from Coazza to Trana, along with the sketches of the mountain ridges of Rocciamelone and Colle La Russa. While a cross distinguishes market towns from simple hamlets, the important center of Avigliana is indicated here by a picture of its church and palaces. Obviously, the cartographer was more interested in the visual impact of his images than the correct scale of his map.

As transformations that aim at retaining many of the formal features of the original messages, translations cannot avoid losses and distortions, for all lexical and phonetic elements peculiar to the source may not be recreated in the target language. And, as far as pictures are concerned, rendering reality into images means constraining a three-dimensional reality into a two-dimensional image. More dramatically, any attempt to transfer a vast area of the globe onto a much reduced image on a flat sheet cannot retain the curved status of the original. Therefore, distorted representations are, alas, normal in cartography, since we use imperfect tools.

From Herodotus ("opsis," sight) to Filippo Sassetti ("vedere, toccare e scrivere") to contemporary travelers and photographers, the most immediate experience of travel is a visual one. Eyesight, the most privileged of the human senses, was at the foundation of the Baconian and Galileian revolutions, superseding even verbal interaction, particularly when travelers to far-away regions were ignorant of local languages. Explorers of new worlds were fond of including engravings of native people and wild animals in their maps or narratives (36) to complement their verbal descriptions, since any comprehension of the whole experience of a vastly different "otherness" is just a synecdochic impression that does only partial justice to reality.

The value of visual support to travelers was never so great as in the age of the Grand Tour, when foreign visitors to Italy admired her monuments, purchased valuable artwork, and had their portraits taken by local painters. Vedutisti such as Panini, (37) Piranesi, Bellotto, and the Dutch-born Vanvitelli became household names among the Grand Tourists. Spoiled by British tourists willing to pay three times more than he asked, Canaletto moved his bottega to England, where his canvases enjoyed an enormous success.

Goethe, one of the most sensitive visitors to the Peninsula and also an accomplished draftsman, was escorted on his journey (1786-1787) by a number of artists who drew sketches of his favorite sites. Now we can see Italy through the poet's eye, and his vision is conveyed to us, stereoscopically, through his words more than 3,000 drawings (38) that reveal his sharp power of observing (what Luigi Magnani calls "la disciplina del saper vedere," in Femmel 16) and add a modern dimension to his journal. There is a puzzling pen and ink drawing of Goethe, probably by Tischbein, showing the poet in his Roman apartment, arranging the pillows on his bed, muttering to himself "Das verfluchte zweite Kussen" ('This damned second pillow"!) under the watchful eye of his cat and the reproductions of some Roman statues [Fig. 2]. The German words, coming out of the poet's mouth just as in a modern cartoon, imply something that is not mentioned in Goethe's journal. The presence of someone in the poet's life? Peering at Goethe in the privacy of his bedroom, wearing a dressing gown and fluffing his extra pillow in frustration, we see new facets of Goethe's Roman experience.

Sometimes, however, a sketch is just an idealized image, without any realistic input, as in this 15th-century woodcut [Fig. 3], variously said to represent London, Dover, or Nuremberg. The author, Hartman Schedel, used it in the Latin version of the Liber cronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) under the caption "Angliae Provincia" and in the German edition as "Frankreich." (39)

The image of a road as a geographic element that joins cities is closely tied to the accounts of a journey and brings about a graphic conceptualization of an individual's experience of time and space. [Fig. 4]

The stretch of the road from London to Dover and from Calais to Beauvais, with landmarks and toponyms, is both a description of a journey and a useful guide for other travelers. A striking example of this function is a 6th-century road atlas featuring distances between cities as well as overnight accommodations. It was copied by a 13th-century monk and was once owned by Konrad Peutinger, a Renaissance German scholar (hence called "Tabula Peutingeriana") [Fig. 5] It is a large stretch of parchment (6.74 by .34 m) that portrays the Roman roads from the Iberian Peninsula to the Far East, stretched lengthwise, focusing just on towns, inns and thermal springs, unconcerned about seas and mountain ranges.

While a drawing of a stretch of road is a simple undertaking, a description of the region beyond the road requires advanced calculations and can only be produced by experienced geographers analyzing complex data. "Geographia," the bigger picture, began to be distinguished from "chorographia," the detailed representation of the space, and is intuitive in this woodcut from Peter Apian's Cosmographia [Fig. 6]. The realm of chorography, with its depiction of the local microcosm, is at times enriched by vivid details of real or imaginary scenes, sea monsters, and wild beasts to emphasize dramatic encounters and the dangers of a voyage or even to hide the cartographers' ignorance, as Jonathan Swift mockingly wrote, (40) or just Sometimes geographers confessed their inability to fit all they knew on a map, "crowd[ing][...] part of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts, unapproachable bogs, Scythian ice, or a frozen sea." (41)

A curious model of Renaissance cartography is the Isolario, an atlas of islands, based on a "parceling" of the world into small entities that transcends all problems related to determining their size or locating these entities on the globe (Lestringant 1991, 152). Islands are viewed as selfsufficient entities, enclosed in their own autonomy, allowed to maintain their peculiar elements that differ from those of other islands and can harbor utopias and dreams. A map in Benedetto Bordone's Isolario of 1534 [Fig. 7] consists of three major islands and three smaller archipelagoes, all oriented along the major winds (Maestro, Greco, Garbino, and Scirocco). Two of these islands are described as gendered (Imaugla and Inebila, inhabited, respectively, by men and women, a common topos in Renaissance cartography (42)); in two of the other islands ("isole di satyri") men are said to be born with a tail; there is also an archipelago of small rocks made of lodestone (Maniole) (43) that attract ferrous material from passing ships, pulling out their nails and shipwrecking them; finally, Bazacata, is the only plausible island in this anonymous archipelago, with no peculiar properties, other than producing the best pearls in the world.

It is obvious that the information trickling down from the explorers to the cartographers could not be judged independently, and legendary, plausible, and real islands were juxtaposed with no effort to determine their location. By crumbling away the globe into small entities, the Isolario avoided also the vexata quaestio of attempting to establish the location of these islands in the ocean, for in early modern cartography, islands were perceived as mysterious sites that were not easily accessible and could be reached only by sheer chance. In fact, until the middle of the 18th century, when accurate longitudinal coordinates could be established, navigators would just "happen" onto islands. (44) And, once they sailed away, it was practically impossible for them to return to these small dots lost in the immensity of the ocean. Antonio Pigafetta's description of Magellan's discovery of the so called "Isole infortunate" in the Pacific Ocean on January 24, 1521, shows all the ambiguity of Renaissance geography, since he relied on inaccurate measurements of distances and only on latitudinal data: "due isolotte disabitate [...], lungi l'una dall'altra duecento leghe [...]; la prima sta in 15 gradi di latitudine all'australe, e l'altra in 9" (Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo, 42). The enormous distance between them could not justify calling them an archipelago, but Sebastian Munster did it anyway in his 1550 Cosmographia, putting these "Insulae infortunatae" off the coast of Peru, probably for moral symmetry with the "Insulae fortunatae," the mythical Canary Islands. (45) Locating islands in the well-traveled waters of the North Atlantic should have been a much easier task than positioning newly-found islands in the Pacific Ocean. But 16th-century northern European cartography is nonetheless a froth of adaptations and lies spread by "savants de cabinet" (Broc 132). Christian legends and pagan sagas influenced maps from Nicolo Zeno's Atlas of 1558 to a 1594 map of the North Atlantic by Jan van Doetecum, in which Iceland is mirrored by an imaginary island of Frisland, while a host of other imaginary rocks dot the ocean: the island of Buss, thought to be spotted by Frobisher in 1578 between Ireland and Greenland, the islands of St. Bernaldo, southeast of Greenland, St. Brendan, near Newfoundland, and other smaller islands (Estland, Icaria, Estoliland, Drogeo), accepted by cartographers as reliable as Mercator (1569) and Ortelius (1570). One of the longest-lived cartographic fallacies of the North Atlantic, here shown in a 1513 map by Waldseemuller [Fig. 8], is the island of Brazil, off the western coast of Ireland, separated from its real double in South America and probably a remnant of the Plato's legendary Atlantis.

The well-charted waters of the Mediterranean were somewhat free of sea monsters (46) and centuries of sailing created portolani that registered only pragamatic observations collected by real mariners. They were indispensable tools for sailors and pilots who had no tolerance for fiction or mythology. There were also accompanying descriptive and pilots' books of the Mediterranean, such as Alonso de Contreras' Derrotero universal. The author followed a terra terra galley route from Cabo de Sao Vicente in Portugal and the strait of Gibraltar to the Italian peninsula, Greece, Turkey, and the North-African coast to Ceuta, offering a medley of geographical details of harbors, fresh water supplies, and potential dangers of people and places. Like pilots' maps, Columbus' sketch of a stretch of the coast of Hispaniola [Fig. 9] left no room for subjective notations and unnecessary details. But accuracy, a sine qua non of cartography, is far from being an easily attainable goal. Many silences have accumulated through centuries of map making, and blank spaces of untraveled regions kept appearing in maps, hidden by frightening animals as in Cornelius de Jode's undomesticated territories of Nova Guinea[ Fig. 10].

Maps have often been drawn according to mythical beliefs and political parti-pris. (47) A map drawn by German cartographers (Johannes Putsch, 1537; Matthias Quad, 1587) and published in various editions of Munster's Cosmographia,. [Fig. 11] portrayed Europe as a caring queen who nourished her subjects returning to her bosom after conquering the world. And Leo Belgicus, a map engraved by M. Eitzinger in 1588 and popular in Dutch cartography, mimicked the shape of the Low Countries as a proud lion, roaring against invaders. (48) A thought-provoking female figure of America [ Fig. 12] was engraved by Theodor Galle (ca. 1580) after a drawing by Jan van der Straet (1575). Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer after whom the New World was named, is portrayed as having just landed. His ship is in the background and he is facing a naked woman lying on a hammock, her club leaning next to a tree. Standing straight and carrying a sword, an astrolabe and a cruciform staff with a banner (symbols of religious truth, military might, and scientific knowledge), Vespucci gazes at her, surrounded by exotic flora and fauna. In the distance, a fire tended by natives suggests a primitive, yet not peaceful way of life, for they are roasting severed human body parts on a spit. Critics have underscored in this image a sequence of striking dichotomies: woman/ nature/passivity vs. man/ technology/action. The rape of this naked woman has not yet taken place, but in hindsight we know that it is an impending event. The European male has conquered a new world, a gendered island, and her new owner has given her, appropriately, a feminine name (Monga 1996, 30). The naked (i.e., primitive) continent, inhabited by tribes that did not exploit their riches in any systematic manner, appeared to Europeans as a land to be taken without legal or moral questions.

As sedentary travelers wrote preposterous narratives, stay-at-home cartographers drew maps, a process that Saint-Exupery's self-centered geographer playfully justified by emphasizing his own intellectual and social status ("le geographe est trop important pour flaner; il ne quitte pas son bureau"). The relationship between explorers and geographers is comparable to that between surgeons and medical doctors in the early modern period: practical vs. theoretical knowledge. Travel writers and travel liars insisted that their memoirs were written in the middle of the roaring elements, standing "en la chaise d'un navire, soubz la lecon des vents" (49) and not in the comfort of the study. But this is not a mutually exclusive categorization, for "a poynt, lyne, angle, or measure wrought in the fieldes and foule wether" should not clash with "operations framed in a well lighted house, upon a faire levell and smoothe table, the eye and hand hanging plumme over the worke, to be set down upon angles, measures, & all other regards curiously taken and noted abroad." (50) Giovanni Battista Ramusio was among the first editors of travel narrative to expose the shameful irresponsibility ("vergognosa audacia e temerita") of cartographers who had put the northwestern passage in their charts, "congiungendo insieme questo nostro Mar Settentrionale con l'Indico Oceano" (Navigazioni di S. Caboto, Pref., 2).

The map of the Brobdingnag peninsula in the Gulliver's Travels set Swift's tale in the general area of the unexplored territory north of California, here anglicized as "New Albion," near the mythical Straits of Anian that were thought to separate the American continent from Asia. (51) [Fig. 13] Well-known toponyms like Mendocino, Monterey, and San Francisco (a political/religious slant connecting this city to Sir Francis Drake instead to the Mission de San Francisco de Asis) gave Swift's satire a realistic validation, setting his fictional peninsula in a geographic context that blended verifiable reality with fiction.

The cartography of the New World offers us a few striking scientific aberrations. Some maps reported a non-existent internal sea at the latitude of Chesapeake Bay, stretching almost to the Pacific Ocean. (52) Others located Marco Polo's 7448 islands just off the coast of California. The most outrageous early modern hoax is the "island of California." Expecting to find an island they knew as California from a chivalric romance, (53) 16th-century explorers and geographers, anticipated a rich land where queen Calafia was said to reign over a population of fierce, man-eating Amazons, somewhere along the northwestern coast of Mexico (and close to the Earthly Paradise!). (54) The general practice of naming a newly-discovered land after Spanish or religious toponyms was set aside in favor of Spanish lore. In 1535 Hernan Cortes and his conquistadores surveyed Baja California and later Alarcon and Coronado failed to determine the shape of that region. But a naive wish to find Calafia's gold-laden island influenced Fray Antonio de la Ascension, a Carmelite friar and amateur geographer who sailed with Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602. He and the sailors in his party, tired of sailing north along the barren shores of the Gulf of Baja California, stopped their exploration, declaring that California was an island. Scientific methods had not trickled down to individuals who still considered the auctoritas of books of chivalry more reliable than their own visual observation. Cervantes' old parish priest was not unjustified for using Montalvo's infamous book to start the bonfire of Don Quixote's library! At first, Hondius and Blaeu, the most reputable Dutch cartographers of their time, refused to join the new trend, but eventually most 17th-century mapmakers accepted the notion of the island of California (55) [Fig. 14], rapidly spreading it thanks to the prestige and plausibility of the technical conventions of cartography. Only at the turn of the 17th century a Jesuit explorer of the Sonora area, Fr. Eusebio Kino, brought this legend to an end, and in 1722 Guillaume Delisle drew a definite map of the area. The myth, however, proved hard to kill. It took a royal edict by Ferdinand VI of Spain in 1747 to force that imaginary island to join forever the map of the North-American continent, but California kept creeping into maps as an island; the last one was printed in Japan in 1865! (56)

In 1744 Jacques Cassini, an Italian cartographer at the court of France, drew a reasonably accurate map of France using trigonometric triangulations. Imperfections, however, were inevitable, for Cassini's instruments were too rudimentary to allow for precise computation of distance and angles. (57) Jorge Luis Borges proposed the perfect, albeit surrealistic, solution to this conundrum in a short story disguised as a fragment of a 17th-century account of a description of an imaginary land:
   En aquel imperio, el arte de la cartografia logro tal perfeccion
   que el mapa de una provincia ocupaba una ciudad, y el mapa del
   imperio toda una provincia. Con el tiempo, esos mapas desmesurados
   no satisfacieron y los colegios de cartografos levantaron un mapa
   del imperio, que tenia el tamano del imperio y coincidia
   puntualmente con el. Menos adictas al estudio de la cartografia,
   las generaciones siguentes entendieron que ese dilatado mapa era
   inutil y no sin empiedad lo relegaron a la inclemencia del sol y de
   los inviernos. En los desiertos del Oeste perduran despedazadas
   ruinas del mapa, habitadas por animales y por mendigos; en todo el
   pais non hay otra reliquia de las disciplinas geograficas. (58)


In this surrealistic dream, Borges reversed "the operative order of cartographic semiosis" (Klein 79) by implying that the best map is the most detailed one; he also exploded the fundamental referentiality of the map and its mimetic relationship with reality. Tongue in cheek, he set the remains of that "useless" and oversized map in a vague no man's land, avoiding any explanation of how it could have been moved there! This situation would mean the end of geography as a theoretical discipline, now reduced to a utopian device. Never one to let a good hunch go to waste, Umberto Eco playfully commented on Borges's text in an essay "Dell'impossibilita di costruire la carta dell'Impero 1 a 1," (59) humorously outlining the "difficolta pratiche e paradossi insormontabili" involved in making this "strumento semiotico, capace cioe di significare l'impero o permettere riferimenti all'impero specie in quei casi in cui l'impero non sia altrimenti percepibile." An impossible task, indeed, for this map would have to record also the presence and movements of people, including the occasional "reader" of the map!

While postmodern critics of travel narrative have emphasized the hopelessness of dealing objectively with the description of facts, the accuracy of maps has improved dramatically with satellite photography (TIROS, SMS, GEOS, LAGEOS, LANDSAT) and mapping processes obtained by automated technology that scans electronically the Earth's surface and converts them into visible images that render the reality of Earth with a degree of accuracy that was almost unthinkable a few decades ago. The new Space Oblique Mercator Projection (SOMP) based on a series of complex equations offers a more accurate cartography of the globe. Microwave and infrared photographs that measure variations in spectral reflectance instead of the patterns of light of traditional pictures help us understand what is underground, with specific applications in archeology and geology, crop management and land conservation, analysis of continental drift and fault movements, monitoring of human pollution, global changes, and urban development, plus the usually secret array of intelligence gathering tools. Multilens cameras that can simultaneously photograph one section of the earth vertically and an oblique one allow stereoscopic renditions of three-dimensional images in high resolution. Carrying out by proxy their exploration of the world, modern cartographers will never have to depend on lying explorers crossing high seas on fragile vessels. Earth maps have no more blank spaces left for the dreamy eyes of the children of the third-millennium, and the unknown has been removed to outer space. In fact, the latest expeditions to Mars show that we can map even areas on which human beings have not yet set foot! The major task of modern cartography involves the constant reassessing of ever-changing political borders according to the latest feuds among the denizens of this "aiuola che ci fa tanto feroci" (Parad. 22, 151), and we all feel somewhat akin to Cervantes' cortesanos whose journeys were limited to their home library,"sin salir de sus aposentos ni de los umbrales de la corte, mirando un mapa, sin costarle blanca, ni padecer calor ni frio, hambre ni sed" (Don Quijote, II, VI)

At the outset of our inquiry, disappointed that our analysis of contemporary travel narrative had showed travel narrative as hopelessly entangled with fiction, we had surmised that maps, drawn according to the "vera scientia" of mathematics, as Benedetto Bordone wrote in his Isolario (1534), could reveal an objective portrait of the world. Ironically, this was the same Bordone who drew fictional islands next to perfectly plausible ones. Maybe the solution of our conundrum could be to exclude all human interventions in this process and let machines collect and analyze objective geographic data. Since machines and robots, alas, are still driven by man-made software and must be interpreted by humans, there is always a chance of a human intervention that could engender errors and confusion. But, while travel narrative continues to be entangled in postmodern subjectivity, cartography is our last chance to become the most objective representation of the geographic reality.

Travel Narrative: A Starting Definition

A cuarteta by Antonio Machado, one of the most engaging and terse comments on travel in modern poetry, underscores some of the crucial elements of travel writing. A journey is a physical displacement that involves viewing and thinking, the fundamental activities in our analysis. (60)

Making a journey, looking at the path after returning, and, eventually, talking or writing about it are gnoseological operations that make into travel narrative. The journey is not just a sequence of footsteps never to be imprinted again, but an object for the traveler's reflection and travel narrative involves events related to a displacement, whether true or fictitious. In classical rhetoric, narratio, the central part of oratio, was said to contain an expositio of events that, according to Quintilian (Institutio oratoria, II, iv, 2) could be distinguished as: fiction (fabula), far from the truth and the truth's image ("non a veritate modo, sed etiam a forma veritatis remota"), as in tragedies and poems.
   realistic narrative (argumentum), not true per se, but having a
   certain plausibility ("falsum sed vero simile"), as in comedies.
   historical narrative (historia), an exposition of actual (i.e.,
   real) facts ("gestae rei expositio"), whose strength is
   proportionate to its truthfulness ("tanto robustior quanto
   verior").


Quintilian's classification is useful to our purpose even though some of his distinctions may not be easy to apply in hodoeporics. We must draw a line between Horace's real "Iter Brundisinum" and Astolfo's fictional journey to the moon in Ariosto's Orlando furioso and distinguish a real journey from a work of fiction. As such works may appear stylistically identical, we must attempt to verify the facts, for a first-person narrative (as in John de Mandeville, Thomas More, and Jonathan Swift) can be misleading while, conversely, Julius Caesar's third-person narrative (De bello gallico) describes his very real campaign in Gaule. A starting point could be Adrien Pasquali's definition of a "recit de voyage" as a "parcours geographique, referentiel, verifiable"(85), implying a set of connecting references (spatial and chronological coordinates defining a sequence of activities) and the presence of intertextual elements, but verification of facts remains a substantial problem.

The Lure of Fiction
   Afirmar que es veridico es ahora una convencion de todo relato
   fantastico (Jorge Luis Borges, El libro de arena)


The advancement of geographic knowledge is related to painstaking fieldwork done by courageous explorers willing to test their intuitions and risk their lives. Their achievements were often dismissed by theoreticians who would not suffer mere practitioners to influence what had been a common belief.

In the 4th century B.C. Pytheas of Massalia traveled north, reporting on Cornish tin mines and the amber trade, yet Strabo called him a liar because Pyteas's report contradicted commonly believed notions. Ptolemy of Alexandria rejected Eratosthenes' near-accurate calculations of the Earth's circumference and Aristarchus' heliocentric theory of our solar system only because they were against the opinion of Aristotle (Green 34), who reigned unchallenged for centuries.

Instruction and entertainment have traditionally been the goals of writers, (1) and poetic license is essential to entertain, as Francesco Vettori realized, thus avoiding a monotonous list of daily activities in the narrative of his journey to Germany: "in questi miei scritti non sia altro che giunsi, venni, arrivai, parti', cavalcai, cenai, udi', risposi e simil cose le quali, replicate spesso, a il lettore danno fastidio" (Vettori 60). Naturally, as long as the writer's embellishments pertain to minor accidents of the displacement, we can still have a real travel narrative, as Francesco Belli pointed out:
   Io non niego pero che non sia lecito avantaggiare ed abbellire un
   tal poco le cose con qualche aiuto di concetti e dilicatezza di
   stile: non essendo cotali fregi piu alla fine che gli ornamenti
   nelle donne, che non le rendono piu belle in sostanza, ma piu
   aggradevoli in apparenza. Per altro, sendo stato il viaggio
   continovo o pochissime volte interrotto, non sara meraviglia che io
   tocchi appena gli oggetti e accenni gli avvenimenti. [...] Tocchero
   adunque le cose vedute e udite: e se talora introdurro qualche cosa
   che paia diversa e lontana dalla materia, non sara che per fecondar
   la sterilita della stessa. (2)


Any act of writing implies a degree of subjectivity and explorers have always embellished their narrative. Pigafetta's 1520 imaginative description of the Patagonian giants remained a topos in cartography until the end of the 18th century. In a map of "Novae Insulae" in Munster's edition of Ptolemy (1540-1541), the German cartographer extrapolated from information gathered by travelers who never set foot in Patagonia, transforming the dull terra incognita of today's Argentina into a land of natural wonders. His "Regio gigantum" was based on Pigafetta's description of his purported encounter with a Patagonian giant:
   costui era cosi grande che li nostri non gli arrivavano alla
   cintura, ed era molto ben disposto, e aveva il volto grande,
   dipinto all'intorno di color giallo (Viaggio di Antonio Pigafetta,
   ch. 3 in G. B. Ramusio's Navigazioni eviaggi).


Even during the Enlightenment, an intellectual environment eager to study man's physical surroundings, the general readership was willing to accept with gullible avidity whatever lies travelers wrote about their faraway adventures. To cover these lies, writers kept emphasizing their honesty with preemptive strikes, as in the last chapter of Swift's Gulliver's Travels:
   I could heartedly wish a law were enacted, that every traveller,
   before he were permitted to publish his voyages, should be obliged
   to make oath before the Lord High Chancellor, that all he intended
   to print was absolutely true to the best of his knowledge; for then
   the world would no longer be deceived as it usually is. (IV, 12)
   (3)


But ensuring travelers' credibility required more than just an oath in a courtroom. A century after Swift, Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, a professional writer, sanctimoniously defined the travel writer as an historian who related faithfully all he witnessed ("une espece d'historien [...]; son devoir est de raconter fidelement ce qu'il a vu ou ce qu'il a entendu dire; il ne doit rien inventer, mais aussi il ne doit rien omettre," II, 702). A disingenuous statement, indeed, for Chateaubriand managed with great adroitness to write about sites he had never seen in the wilderness of North America. As Marguerite de Navarre had emphasized three centuries before, most writings done by "gens de lettres" tend to favor, unfortunately, "la beaulte de la rhethorique," befuddling "la verite de l'histoire" (Heptameron, Prologue). As soon as they grasp a pen, authors transform themselves into novelists and begin to create. These "gens de lettres" have invaded the sacred domain of hodoeporics. Their creativity has turned a description of reality into an adventure. The elemental struggle of creative writing and the need to create a "narration heroisante," as Real Ouellet put it (Beugnot 219), has led writers to "decipher" the world in a personal manner.

William Nelson's remark that in the Renaissance "there was no legitimate category of literature into which the verisimilar fiction could fit" (28) must be taken with a grain of salt. Fiction existed in classical antiquity from Homer to Lucian and Virgil, and the dulcedo of fables and parables was a strategic tool that conveyed a moral message to listeners who "videntes non vident et audientes non audiunt neque intelligunt"(Matth 13:13). But fiction is not necessarily a distortion of reality. The literary criticism of the Trecento accepted the implied notion that ancient poets used myths as metaphors to teach moral messages. Dante hid the doctrine of his Commedia "sotto il velame de li versi strani" (Inf. IX, 63), freely mixing Christian and pagan images ("O sommo Giove/ che fusti in terra per noi crucifisso," Purg. VI, 118-119). Petrarch admitted that the moral content of his poetry was hidden under his fiction ("sub fictionibus suis naturalia contegunt atque moralia" (Fam. XV, 8). Boccaccio acknowledged that truth lied under the cover of poetic stories ("velamento fabuloso atque decenti veritatem contegere," Gen. deor. gent. XIV, 7) and expected his readers to accept as real the behavior of the characters in his novelle, noting that truthfulness is more pleasurable than fiction ("il partirsi dalla verita delle cose state e gran diminuire di diletto negl'intendenti," Decam. IX, 5). (4) Distrusting the realm of pure fiction as a despicable waste of energy, (5) Cervantes appointed a village priest to burn Don Quijote's extensive library of chivalric works while he spun the tale of the adventures of his ingenioso hidalgo. Fiction is indeed essential to writing, no matter what authors' claims may be, but plausibility could be a sine qua non of hodoeporics, "Fiction in form, but in substance truths, / Tremendous truths! / Of long-past times, nor obsolete in ours. (6)" as Wordsworth suggested (Excursions, VI, 545-547).

As for plausibility, the picaresque novel holds a special place in our assessment of travel narrative, for under the cloak of fictional narrative we can observe details of the landscape that appear to hide journeys really taken by the novelist himself. Once more, travel narrative, always an elusive chimaera, becomes a sort of meta-literature, slipping through artificial boundaries even before postmodernism injected an agonizing sense of subjective indetermination into the critical process of genre analysis.

Shades of Truth: Verifiability vs. Plausibility
   He has amused the reader with no romantic absurdity or incredible
   fictions; whatever he relates, whether true or not, is at least
   probable, and he who tells nothing exceeding the bounds of
   probability has a right to demand that they should believe him who
   cannot contradict him (Boswell, in Life of Dr. Johnson, describing
   a book of Jeronimo Lobo, S.J., a Portuguese missionary, whose
   description Africa was translated by Samuel Johnson; Voyage to
   Abyssinia. Birmingham, 1735, I, 86-89)


Despite our confidence in today's availability of knowledge, even the best tools at our disposal are insufficient to verify the truthfulness of ancient travel narratives. For example, only in the last decade archaeologists have been able to ascertain Herodotus' truthfulness when he stated that the Scythians buried their dead ones in the high mountains of the Altai region. A team of Russian scientists in the 1990s found mummified corpses wearing Scythian clothes and jewelry in burial mounds of the Pazyryk tribe, proving that what had once been considered a legend was real. Two and a half millennia after Herodotus we now must concede that the Greek historian took his information quite seriously.

Are we then to renounce our quest for real travel narrative, if the narrative of the geographical displacement was written so long ago that there is little chance of objective verification (Marco Polo)? or when only a partial verification can be made (as in Chateaubriand's journey through Louisiana or Florida or Stendhal's visit to Sicily)? Should we suspend our judgement and patiently wait for indisputable proof when our travel writer moves alone, carefully hiding his tracks like Chatwin? We would be left with the absurd process of demonization that Marco Polo's narrative periodically undergoes.

That travel narrative needs to be based on a geographic travel is a tautological requirement. Voyages autour de ma chambre, sedentary journeys, utopian or metaphorical narratives pertain, by definition, to a different realm that is beyond physical motion. A journey implies getting out of one's limited home-based perspective to a place farther than "going to town," leaving one's family estate and its familiar coziness and changing one's coelum ("coelum non animum muto dum trans mare curro," Horace, Sat. I, i, 30), but it does not require a transatlantic exploration per se. The definition of referentiality in a narrative text remains one of the basic problems in establishing a taxonomy of hodoeporics. Refentiality takes numerous forms through the ages and the narrative styles as the main connection between acta, the activities performed in real life by the writer, and dicta (or scripta), the narrative of the writer's own reflection. For Horace it involves a realistic description of the journey, observed through a precise list of toponyms and places and means of transportation. It also involved the presence of friends, mentioned by name, as potential witnesses for the writer's credibility. The anonymous author of the Discours viatiques (1588-1589) mentioned "les seigneurs et gentilshommes J. Sevin, A. de Blondeau, D. Parent, S. de la Veuve, de Vanacourt et du Fresnoy, avec le sieur Le Febvre, qui desja avoit faict le voyage," all impatiently waiting in Paris to board the coach for their journey abroad (45-46). And "le sieur de Fresnoy," in an interesting coincidence, is mentioned in another anonymous text, the Voyage de Provence et d'Italie (1588-1589), near Naples, when the two groups of Frenchmen mentioned in these journals meet while visiting the hot baths of Agnano. (7) Montaigne's Voyage en Italie, written by his secretary, Locatelli's Viaggio di Francia penned for his friends who went to France with him, the journals of Venetian ambassadors, written by their secretaries, are equally reliable, for the presence of an outsider purges some of the writer's lies.

In the 18th century referentiality is anchored to the title of the narrative (Letters from/Letters about), for letter writing implicitly states the presence of the narrators/writers in the places from which they wrote or pretended to be writing; Yet, it was a century full of authors of spurious and deceptive books of travel (Adams 1962, 1-18). Eventually, Romantic hodoeporics ("le voyage romantique") muddied the waters. Writers had no compunction about supplying their readers with false references, telescoping several events into one or creating segments of their journey exclusively from their readings. Chateaubriand, as we saw, never went to Florida, Stendhal managed to make his reader believe that he was in Italy at times when in fact he was not, Nerval never left from Trieste on his way to the Orient, and Bruce Chatwin described people he did not meet and conversations that never took place.

The Misfortunes of Writing
   Sed satis itum, satis est scriptum. Hactenus tu remis ac pedibus
   maria et terras, ego hanc papirum calamo properante sulcaverim, et
   an adhucc tu fessus sis eundo, certe ego iam scribendo fatigatus
      sum
   eoque magis quam celerius incessi; quod enim tu forte tribus
   mensibus, hoc ego triduo consumavi (Petrarch, Itinerarium, XVIII,
      12)


Sitting at his desk for three days to write his Itinerarium was more painful, according to Petrarch, than his reader's three-month pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Horace's parentage is obvious: charta and via have a tight connection. Writing is almost as hard as traveling; the return home and the end of the text are events to celebrate: "Brundisium finis chartaeque viaeque." And the word "Itinerarium" is both the journey and the writing of the journey, a task that is meant to comprehend (etymologically, to include) one's experience in the limited space of the written word and to translate visual experiences and personal thoughts into a set of written codes that readers will transfer once more into a mental text. (8)

Blurring the frontiers between traveling and writing is an interesting exercise, but there are "fluid boundaries both within and among genres" (Ron Gottesman quoted in Blanton viii). In travel narrative, however, the chaos of such boundaries appears more dramatic. A genre with "a thousand forms and faces" (Adams 281), hodoeporics has undergone a complex evolution, as we have shown, and taken a broad variety of generic shapes. It is a Proteus-like system that has accepted all sorts of suggestions and has appropriated styles, forms, and allusions. It would be great if we could determine where a text is a fictional narrative or a personal account of a journey really undertaken; texts, however, do not always fit into tidy categories. Their vast congeries contain numerous examples of hard-to-define elements and odd mixtures of fiction and realism. One could never exclude the interference of personal journeys into fictional narrative. Cervantes has inserted in his fictional Don Quijote a number of details that reveal his personal background. The reader could follow the hero's peregrinations through specific geographic allusions and suggestions. Recent scholarship has argued that the landscape of Cervantes' novel is not that of Don Quijote's La Mancha, as has been traditionally believed, but in fact it portrays the expanse of Sanabria, a primitive region in northwestern Spain, near the Portuguese border, where Cervantes may have lived. (9) And I have postulated that some of Cervantes' Novelas ejemplares may contain realistic details of their author's own journey to Italy. (10) Indeed, boundaries between fiction and travel narrative tend to be blurry. The basic cycle of travel narrative (departure, adventure, return, reflection) takes many shapes and develops into many stories (Monga 2000), (11) mixing freely fiction and truth, objective facts and personal perceptions. The success of some of Jules Verne's novels was based on the French novelist's ability to write science-fiction that was not completely implausible. In fact, he wrote Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1869) and Voyage autour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1872) a few years before submarines and transcontinental flight were developed. They were "delightfully extravagant voyages, [...] to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of verisimilitude." (12) And today, after the Apollo lunar expeditions, the world of science fiction has pushed the envelop, replacing with psychological inquiry what used to be technological surprise. Lies and illusions are enmeshed with travel narrative. (13)

A definitive identification of travel narrative continues to elude us, for the closer we get to a conclusion the farther the territory expands, appearing to accept still more conflicting categories.

The Challenges of A Taxonomy

Admitting a modicum of tautology, we may propose to set the minimum common denominator of hodoeporics as the narrative of a plausible displacement away from the writer's own milieu, (14) referential as to its geography and history (spatial and chronological displacement, toponyms, events, and people). This definition illuminates the dichotomy of "real" vs. metaphorical, utopian, science-fictional displacements. It will imply a subtext related to a physical and chronological motion away from home and a reflection on the activity of traveling. It is obvious that such a text shares some characteristics of autobiographical writing, since the narrator often is the same person as the traveler whose adventure began not with birth but with departure (Roudaut 59). The time-lapse between the journey and its account suggests a reflection of a personal experience, as Flaubert stated in the prelude to his Voyage en Orient ("Entre le moi de ce soir et le moi de ce soir-la il y a la difference du cadavre au chirurgien qui l'autopsie").

Since today's mass tourism has created a global compulsion to reach far-away sites, there are very few, if any, new places to discover. The geographical displacement we call tourism is often performed in order to verify what other travelers have written about the world ("verifier un texte anterieur sur le monde," Pasquali 85), witness the popularity of guidebooks. The desire to confront a personal experience with other voices and the urge to find new ways to express that experience create a medley of narrative strategies. We have seen them in our survey, a vast corpus shifting between telling a real story and creating a marvelous tale. So many internal ambiguities prevent critics from establishing solid parameters of hodoeporics (Le Huenen 14). All attempts to crystallize this kind of narrative into a single genre are doomed to fail, for its forms and contents are too varied and, often, contradictory. Today's criticism, with its lack of "firm boundaries between different kinds of literature" (Hernadi 8) and tendency to be less dogmatic than in the past, leaves us with a tentative approach to describe literary phenomena. One could apply to our field what Hayden White wrote about the historiographic discourse: "Viewed simply as verbal artifacts, histories and novels are indistinguishable from each other" (21-44). The fallacy of prescriptive definitions would suggest a need to adopt several systems of coordinates (Hernadi 153). First of all there is an unavoidable relationship between the text and the journey. Seeing and writing are essential in this process, even though there could be hindrances of all sorts that prevent a good view or an exact report. Deciphering the unknown is never an easy task, for analogies show inevitable approximations.

The Horatian syntagm pleasant-and-useful is fundamental to travel narrative. The relationship between fiction and reality is at the core of the problem, but it is a blurred hierarchy. Aristotle's distinction between poets and historians comes back to haunt us, caught between what happened and what could have happened (Poetics VI 51b4-51b7). On one hand, we witness Orazio Busino riding on a boat down the Rhine "con la penna in mano" (Contarini), noting conscientiously the toponyms of the villages he observes on the river banks. On the other, we meet Heinrich Heine, feasting in the cozy atmosphere of a table d'hote in Brescia, forsaking a guided tour of that city to listen to a waiter's humorous description of his town. (15) Heine freely admits that his narrative of Brescia is based on hearsay, but his Reisebilde is a travel narrative. Heine's honest casualness underscores the ambiguous state of this genre and a traumatic change that is happening at the very moment Chateaubriand takes pain to portray his factitious travel narrative as the work of an historian.

"Quid est veritas?": The Unavoidable Snare of Narrative

Tout recit est un piege (Louis Marin)

After this journey through the world's hodoeporics, it is evident that truthful travel narratives are unattainable goals and that a clear distinction between referential and fictional travel narrative is an illusion. Authenticity and creativity have constantly clashed since the time when the Greeks chose Hermes, god of liars, as the patron of travelers. We know that as soon as the traveler begins to write, personal experience clashes with literary adventure. Travel writing is an enterprise closer to novel or poetry (M.-C. Gomez-Geraud in Antoine-Gomez-Geraud 249) and makes a taxonomy of hodoeporics virtually impossible to enact. In the postmodern discourse about literary genres, anyone yearning to make an apodictic statement in the field of literary criticism is doomed. Avoiding all Pollyannaish temptations, we are left to extrapolate from Francesco Vettori's clear program for the narrative of his journey through Germany:
   Scriverro adunque, tutti e' luoghi dove sono stato, e non solo le
   citta e castelli, ma li borghi e le minime ville, e quello che mi
   sia accaduto e con chi abbi parlato e di che. (Viaggio in Alamagna
   [1507], 13)


Vettori's aim, as pragmatical and unsophisticated as it appears at first sight, touches on the common denominator, if not a definition, of most travel narratives. Re-creating in writing all sites he saw, the people he met, and the words they exchanged is all Vettori had to do to put his personal experience into writing. Vettori's text, intended to be a faithful report of what he saw and did, makes his credibility unquestionable. Yet, after setting the realistic parameters of his travel narrative, Vettori's journey is like Boccaccio's cornice, just a "frame" for fictional novelle, another blatant intrusion of fiction into reality. Under his "piacevoli novelle," the journey to Germany ("e' luoghi dove sono stato" and "quello che mi sia accaduto") suddenly disappears. But writing about one's experience is never as simple a process as that described by Sterne's "muleteer [who] drives on his mule all the way from Rome to Loretto, without ever once turning his head aside either to the right hand or to the left."
   A man of the least spirit will have fifty deviations from a
   straight line to make with this or that party as he goes along,
   which he can no ways avoid. He will have views and prospects to
   himself perpetually solliciting his eye, which he can no more help
   standing still to look at than he can fly; he will moreover have
   various
      Accounts to reconcile:
      Anecdotes to pick up:
      Inscriptions to make out:
      Stories to weave in:
      Traditions to sift:
      Personages to call upon:
      Panygericks to paste up at this door:
      Pasquinades at that:
   -- All which both the man and his mule are quite exempt from. To
   sum up all; there are archives at every stage to be look'd into,
   and rolls, records, documents, and endless genealogies, which
   justice ever and anon calls him back to stay the reading of:--In
   short, there is no end of it. (Laurence Sterne. The Life and
   Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Esq., I, XIV)


Sterne's muleteer is a satiric metaphor for the rare writer who is not concerned with his literary reputation. Many travel writers, however, eager to pursue fame, let literary creativity creep insidiously into their writings (as Marguerite de Navarre's "hommes de lettres"). That is why Louis Marin branded all writing as an unavoidable snare, and travel narrative and fiction remain forever entangled. A debate on the truthfulness of travel narrative probably will lead us nowhere. Let us then enjoy the Horatian sweetness of literary enjoyment as the implied goal of hodoeporics, and leave guidebooks as the only form of pure travel information. Since we live in an imperfect world, however, in which muleteers are not usually prone to write, we must accept, with Sterne, the unavoidable (but how enjoyable!) companionship of travel liars and creative travel writers like Lucian, who confessed in his True Story, "not having had any adventure of significance, I took to lying" (I, 4).

Vanderbilt University, Nashville

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Ramusio, Giovanni Battista. Navigationi et viaggi, ed. M. Milanesi. Torino: Einaudi, 1978-1983, 6 vol.

Sassetti, Filippo. Lettere da vari paesi [1578-1588], ed. V. Bramanti. Milano: Longanesi, 1970.

Stendhal [Henri Beyle]. Rome, Naples et Florence en 1817; L'Italie en 1818; Rome, Naples et Florence [1826]; Promenades dans Rome in Voyages en Italie, ed. V. Del Litto. Paris: Gallimard, 1973.

Theroux, Paul. The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Vettori, Francesco. Viaggio in Alamagna [1507] in Scritti storici e politici, ed. E Niccolini Bari: Laterza, 1972.

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(1) Portions of this essay were read in October-November 2002 as a plenary lecture at the Royal Irish Academy Modern Language Symposium at the National University of Ireland at Galway, as the "Prolusione all'Anno Accademico 2002-2003" of the Universita degli Studi of Ragusa Ibla, and as seminars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Ireland at Galway, Trinity College, Dublin, and the Universita degli Studi of Catania.

(2) Marcel Bataillon, "Remarques sur la litterature des voyages," in Connaissance de l'etranger: Melanges Jean-Marie Carre (Paris: Didier, 1964), p. 51.

(1) While we are fond of the Italian formulation odeporica (Nucera 119) and hodoeporics in English (Monga 1996, 6) for their historical and etymological parentage, litterature de voyages and litterature viatique are common in French (although we are happy to see hodeporique as an adjective in one of the essays in this volume), while in Spanish camineria seems to be still prevalent.

(2) Michel de Certeau stated that "Tout recit est un recit de voyage" (L'Invention du quotidien: I: Arts de faire (Paris: 10/18, 1980), 206; cf. also Monga 1996, 6-7. Tzvetan Todorov's assertion "tout est voyage" (Les Morales de l'histoire. Paris: Grasset, 1991, p. 121) is even more encompassing.

(3) Francis Affergan offers another attempt to organize the multifarious models of hodoeporics by joining linguistics and rhetoric. Postulating a complex four-model system ("recit meto-nymique, synecdochique, metaphorique," and, finally, a recit of real travel and discovery), he is eventually forced to acknowledge that "tout recit de voyage appartient aux quatre genres a la fois, a des degres divers, ou plutot il y participe de fait, puisque le rapport sur le voyage effectue ou non est inverifiable completement" (cf. A. Pasquali's chapter "Une typologie narrative des recits de voyage: urgence ou impossibilite?", 139-143).

(1) "Lo spirito pragmatico latino non sembra aver avuto in simpatia il viaggio; nessuna opera con questo contenuto figura nel canone tramandato alla posterita romanza" (Cardona 688).

(2) Although the literary genre of travel narrative was rare in Roman times, there were instances of such narratives in texts as different as Petronius' Satyricon, Cicero's letters, and, naturally, the writings of Pliny and Josephus.

(3) My editions of a number of 16th- and 17th-century journals of French and English travelers who went from Rome to Naples have shown that in early-modern times the route from Rome to Naples, the Via Appia, followed a good portion of Horace's journey. Some detours were caused by the deterioration of the Via Appia, which occurred during the Middle Ages, and by the risk of malaria in the marshes between Sermoneta and Priverno (cf. D. Sterpos, Roma-Capua. Rome: Autostrade, 1966, pp. 99-148).

(4) "Le Voyage et l'ecriture," in Repertoire IV (Paris: Minuit, 1974), 9-10; see also Jaime Ferran, "Viaje y literatura" (in Monga 1996, 65-70). A well-know topos, Horace's connection between charta and via appears in the conclusion of an "Hodoeporicum ab urbe Lutetia ad Romam usque" (1590) by Jacques Sirmond: "Idem esto finis carminis atque viae" (L. Monga, "L'Hodoeporicum de Jacques Sirmond," Humanistica Lovanensia, 42 [1993]:301-322).

(5) Another topos of early-modern travel narrative in Lucilius' text is that it addressed a friend who could not join the travelers. Lucilius wanted to share the joy of the journey and the praise of completing it ("Tu partem laudis caperes tu gaudia mecum / partisses"). Travel narrative is a means of vicarious traveling for individuals who cannot afford the expenses of a long journey, as Jacques De Villamont's suggested to his readers: "sans changer d'air faictes ce long voyage" (Voyages. Paris: C. de Montr'oeil et J. Richer, 1600).

(6) Caren Kaplan, Questions of Travel: Postmodern Dicourses of Displacement (Durham: Duke UP, 1996), p. 3.

(7) See Paul Van Tieghem, La Litterature latine de la Renaissance: etude d'histoire litteraire europeenne (1944; reprint: Geneve: Slatkine, 1966) and Voyages en Europe, ed. Michel Bastiaensen (Bruxelles: Peeters, 1994).

(8) See supra, n. 9. As for the term hodoeporicon, it may be useful to remember that the first Anglo-Saxon travel journal is Willibald's 8th-century Hodoeporicon to Jerusalem. An unpublished "Iter Roma in Galliam ac reditus," the poetic narrative of Flavio Cardinal Chigi's journey to Paris in 1664 (Rome, Bibl. Apost. Vatic., Chig., I, VII, 263), illustrates the habit of writing Latin poetry in the course of a tedious journey.

(9) In his preface to Marco Polo's book Giovanni Battista Ramusio acknowledged the presence of "molte cose che pareno fabulose e incredibili,," implicitly criticizing Polo's acceptance of what his informers told him ("quello che gli veniva detto," in Navigazioni e viaggi, ed. M. Milanesi. Torino: Einaudi, 1980, 3: 23).

(10) Orazio Busino, who in 1613 accompanied ambassador Pietro Contarini to Oxford, was surprised to see in the Bodleian Library "un tomo in folio, pieno di relazioni venete, alla barba della secretezza" (Venice, Bibl. Marciana, Ital. VII, 1122, f. 81v). It was probably the volume of secret political notes (MS Bodl. 911) that Sir Richard Spenser gave to the Library in 1603.

(11) My edition of Pietro Contarini's travel journals in Europe is forthcoming in the collection "Itinera" by Edizioni Agora of La Spezia, Italy.

(12) This text, found in a 16th-century manuscript in the Biblioteca Marciana (Ms. It. VI, 187) was published by Pietro Donazzolo (I viaggiatori veneti minori. Roma: Reale Societa Geografica Italiana, 1927, pp. 6-7).

(13) L. Monga, "Il diario del viaggio a Londra dell'ambasciatore Girolamo Lando (1619)," Miscellanea Marciana (Venezia), 15 (2000):79-111.

(14) For an analogous situation, Montaigne's Journal de voyage, written in part by his anonymous secretary, see L. Monga,"Ecriture viatique et fiction litteraire: voyageurs et 'secretaires' autour du Journal de voyage de Montaigne," Montaigne Studies, 15 (2003): 7-17.

(15) "Recit de voyage et autobiographie", Annali d'Italianistica XIV (1996), p. 80.

(16) Antonio de Beatis, Die Reise des Kardinals Luigi d'Aragona durch Deitschland, die Nederlande, Frankreich und Oberitalien, 1517-1518, ed. Ludwig Pastor (Fribourg, Herder, 1905), p. 90. Le texte de De Beatis a ete recemment traduit par John R. Hale (Londres, Hakluyt Society, 19790 et vulgarise par A. Chastel (Paris, Fayard, 1986; trad. ital.: Bari, Laterza, 1987), mais l'edition de Pastor du texte italien reste toujours la plus sure.

(17) Cesare Magalotti, "Viaggio di Francia dell'Eminent.mo.e Rev.mo Sig.r Cardinal Francesco Barberino, Vice Cancelliere di S. Chiesa, Nipote e Legato a Latere di N.ro Sig.re Urbano VIII Pontefice Massimo, Roma, Bibl. Vat., Barb. Lat. 5686, f 3r.

(18) Un mercante di Milano in Europa: diario di viaggio del primo Cinquecento, a cura di L. Monga (Milan, Edizioni Universitarie Jaca, 1985).

(19) Paul Freart de Chantelou, "Memoire du traitement fait par la Maison du Roi a Monsieur le Cardinal Chigi, Legat a latere en France", Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS Cinc Cents Colbert, no 175; "Registro della Legation di Francia dell'Eminen.mo Sig.r Cardinale Chigi", "Relatione del viaggio fatto dall'Em.mo Sig. Card. Flavio Chigi, nipote della Sant.ta di N. S. Alessandro VII spedito in Francia alla Maesta del Re Christianissimo Luigi XIV", Rome, Bibl. Vat., Chig. E II 35 and 38. I would like to thank Dr. Gregory A. Pass, of the Vatican Library at Saint Louis University, for his help in the identification of these manuscripts of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

(20) See Yvonne Bellenger, "Le Recit de voyage par lettres dans le Nouveau Voyage d'Italie de Misson," in B. Bray and C. Strosetski (eds.), Art de la lettre, art de la conversation a l'epoque classique en France (Paris: Klincksieck, 1995), pp. 305-323.

(21) Demetrius "On Style," 231 in Aristotle, Longinus, Demetrius (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1999 [Loeb Classical Library 199]), 485. Gaius Julius Victor, a 4th-century A.D. rhetorician specified the basic principle of letter writing: brevitas, lux, iocus, gratia ("brevity, clarity, jocularity, and grace").

(22) "Incredibile dictu quam gestierit homo prae gaudio. Pertrahit in aedes suas. In mensula inter syngraphas telonicas iacebant Erasmi libelli. Beatus se clamitat, aduocat liberos, aduocat uxorem, aduocat amicos omnes" (p. 395). A moving scene of ecstatic merriment and confuse surprise develops; Christophorus Aschenfelder, the local toll-collector who proudly displays Erasmus' books on the shelves of his boot, next to the customs forms, is beside himself with joy and admiration for his unexpected chance of meeting Erasmus, the most famous writer of his time.

(23) Acknowledging that his fear of sea traveling and sea-sickness prevented him from embarking in such a meritorious enterprise (2.15) after speaking so eloquently about the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Petrarch lamely concludes that his thalassophobia is a natural impulse ("frenum") to refrain from succumbing to vain distractions ("Hoc forsan animo vago et rerum novarum inexplebili oculo frenum posuit natura," 2.18).

(24) A curious intertextual connection could be drawn between this metaphor and the "Indovinello veronese," a 9th-century example of early Italian in which the act of writing is compared to plowing through the white field of paper with a white pen that sows the black seeds of words: "Se pareba boves / alba pratalia araba / et albo versorio teneba / et negro semen seminaba."

(25) While Petrarch's text enjoyed a great success among his medieval readers, modern standards of travel narrative and guidebook writing have changed quite drastically and his Itinerarium has little value for contemporary travelers to the Holy Land.

(26) Boccaccio's De montibus, silvis, fontibus, lacubus, fluminibus, stagnis seu paludibus, et de nominibus maris, a manual of geography, illustrates the encyclopedic strand of this period.

(1) Louis Coulon adapted his Ulysse francois from Abraham Golnitz's Ulysses belgicogallucus (1631), but we consider it here as an independent guidebook for its wide popularity in 17th-century France.

(2) Fastidious German travelers were humorously portrayed by Saint-Evremont as fussy diary writers: "Nous avons aussi un journal ou nous ecrivons nos remarques, a l'instant meme que nous les faisons; rarement nous attendons jusqu'au soir; mais jamais voyageur allemand ne s'est couche sans avoir mis sur le papier ce qu'il a vu durant la journee" (Sir Politick Would-Be [1705], ed. R. Finch et E. Jollat. Paris-Geneva: Droz, 1978, p. 57).

(3) One exception, perhaps, is the anonymous journal of a young Frenchman who traveled to Italy in 1588-1589. I had the good fortune of finding and publishing his daily notes--blurred, unevenly-written pages, penned at the end of each day (Discours viatiques). The traveler's experience transcended the banality of his text. Undoubtedly tired after a long day of horseback riding, surrounded by a motley crowd of fellow lodgers, the young writer was concerned only with capturing in unpolished but vivid notes the memory of what he had just experienced.

(4) See Vincenzo De Caprio's detailed analysis of the stylistic and historical problems of Giuseppe Acerbi's numerous versions and translations of his travel journal to Cape North (1798-1832).

(5) A topos often repeated by travel writers, as in Jacques de Villamont's preface to the readers of his Voyages (Paris, 1600): "Francois [...], sans changer d'air faictes ce long voyage."

(6) He mentions the useful travel advice he received from an Italian dog-breeder who periodically crossed the Mont Cenis to supply the king's Court with his miniature dogs ("cani piccoli bolognesi") that were the rage in 17th-century Paris (135-138).

(7) Antoine Du Perier, Les Amours de Pistion et de Fortunie [1606], ed. R. Arbour (Ottawa: Les Editions de l'Universite d'Ottawa, 1973), p. 128.

(8) "Libraire au Lecteur" in Journal du voyage d'Espagne [...]. Paris: Denis Thierry, 1669, p. IV, quoted by Sylvie Requemora ("Du roman au recit, du recit au roman: le voyage comme genre 'metoyen' au XVIIe siecle, de Du Perier a Regnard" in Roman et Recits de voyage, forthcoming).

(9) Joseph Banks, a young millionaire who managed to accompany the "Endeavour" expedition of 1768, is said to have remarked with contempt that "every blockhead" could engage in the traditional Grand Tour of Europe: "My Grand Tour," he added, "shall be one around the world."

(10) In the very beginning of the 18th century Francesco Gemelli Carreri had published two important travel narratives: Giro del mondo (1699-1708) and Viaggi in Europa (17001708).

(11) See Filippo Sassetti's travel letters in the Raccolta di prose fiorentine (Florence: Tartini e Franchi, 1716-1745) and Montaigne's Journal de voyage.en Italie published by Meunier de Querlon in 1774.

(12) Mrs. Courtney, Isabinda of Bellefield; A Sentimental Novel in A Series of Letters (Dublin: P. Wogan et al., 1795); Mrs. Holford, Fanny: A Novel, in A Series of Letters (Dublin: Colles, Parker, et al., 1786; The Affected Indifference; A Sentimental Novel in A Series of Letters (Dublin: C. Jackson, 1781); and many, many others.

(13) William Dickinson, Letters on Slavery (London: J. Phillips, 1789); Helen Maria Williams, Letters from France, Containing Many New Anecdotes Relative to the French Revolution (London: Robinson, 1792).

(14) Sailors' Letters; Letters from a Midshipman in the Royal navy to His Friend and Brother Officer [...] (Plymouth: Nettleton, 1800).

(15) Among the French and Italian titles, these should suffice: Lettres Peruviennes (Mme de Grafigny, 1775), Lettres sur les Anglois et les Francois et les voiages (Louis Beat de Muralt, 1726), Lettres philosophiques (Voltaire, 1734), Lettres juives (Marquis d'Argens, 1736), Lettres sur l'Italie (Anne-Marie Du Bocage, 1768), Lettres sur l'Italie en 1785 (Charles-Marguerite Jean-Baptiste Dupaty, 1788), Lettres historiques et critiques sur l'talie (Charles de Brosses, 1799), Lettres d'Italie (Jean-Jacques Barthelemy, 1802), even Montesquieu's Lettres persanes (1721). Lettere virgiliane and Dodici lettere inglesi sopra vari argomenti e sopra la letteratura italiana principalmente (Saverio Bettinelli, 1751 and 1766), Lettere familiari ai suoi tre fratelli (Giuseppe Baretti, 1762), Lettere familiari e critiche (Vincenzo Martinelli, 1776), Lettere ... sopra alcune particolarita della Baviera ed altri paesi della Germania (Giovanni Lodovico Bianconi, 1763), Lettere ad un amico (Angelo Maria Bandini, 1776), Lettere odeporiche (Angelo Gualandri, 1780), Lettere odeporiche di Venezia, Trieste, ... (Francesco Griselini, 1780), Lettere scritte da piu parti d'Europa ... nel 1783 (Francesco Luini, 1785), Lettere brandeburghesi (Carlo Denina, 1786), Lettera sopra un picciol viaggio (Francesco della Torre di Rezzonico, 1792), Viaggi alle Due Sicilie e in alcune parti dell'Appennino (Lazzaro Spallanzani, 1792-1797), Lettere sopra l'Inghilterra, la Scozia e l'Olanda (Luigi Angiolini, 1790), Viaggio per l'Italia [...] esposto in un corso di lettere critiche ed erudite (Gioseffo Comoldi Caminieri, 1800).

(16) "C'est la lettre qui est le modele litteraire le mieux adapte [to Misson's goal], car elle a, en plus, l'avantage de ne pas manquer totalement de prestige historique et litteraire" (Harder 73).

(17) De Brosses's complaint that the Roman police confiscated his copy of Misson's book was, probably, be a device to make readers believe that he could not have plagiarized Misson.

(18) Revue retrospective, ou Bibliotheque historique, ser. II, tome VII, 196-197. And Boucher de la Richarderie accused Montaigne's Journal of being just "un bulletin fastidieux de remarques journalieres sur sa sante et sur les effets des eaux minerales dont il faisoit usage" (Bibliotheque universaelle des voyages. Paris, 1808, I, 293).

(19) Journal, ed. Paul Viallaneix (Paris: Gallimard, 1959), I, 457; see, below, M. Brix's essay on this topic.

(20) A comparison between Chateaubriand's Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem (II, 679-1214), re-written much later with a wealth of classical quotes and poetic insights, and the terse daily notes of the journal of Julien Potelin, his manservant on the same journey ("Voyage de Julien a Jerusalem," II, 1507-1540), would show different narrative strategies and interests of two real travelers putting into writing a personal experience of the same journey.

(21) In his Voyage en Amerique, he unabashedly quotes passages he had already used in some of his works. As for the Ur-text of his notes, he sheepishly admits using them with great freedom: "Je laisse maintenant parler le manuscrit: je le donne tel quel je le trouve, tantot sous la forme d'un recit, tantot sous celle d'un journal, quelquefois en lettres ou en simples annotations" (II, 685).

(22) Chateaubriand et son groupe litteraire, 4e lecon (II, 614).

(23) Maurice Regard, the editor of the Pleiade edition of Chateaubriand's OEuvres romanesques et voyages, acknowledged the difficulty in classifying the genre of some of Chateaubriand's works: "Dans quel genre placer l'Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem, ou l'auteur se retrouve tout entier au naturel et presque intime?" (I, xiii). It was, typically, a problem of traditional scholarship, and still shows a fundamental indecision in finding a clear cut taxonomy for texts like Chateaubriand's Voyage en Amerique that appeared in print 36 years after their author's actual journey.

(24) V. Del Litto's annotations show Stendhal's habit of recycling his journals in order to solve his financial problems by rewriting and republishing his notes. V. Del Litto adds that the notion of a traveling group in Stendhal's journals implies almost a dramatic form, with direct and indirect dialogs. The author is a leader, (le cicerone et le porte-parole, XXII). This was also the opinion of one of the first reviewers of Stendhal's Promenades dans Rome, who criticized this book for having "le decousu de la vie d'un voyageur et de la conversation d'un homme du monde" (La Revue francaise of September 11, 1829, quoted in Stendhal 1599).

(25) Chateaubriand used the same method, inserting in his Itineraire his meeting with fictional characters like Arsenios, Jerusalem's "Armenian patriarch". Historians have shown that there was no Armenian patriarch bearing that name (II, 1067-1068).

(26) "A fertile territory of fantasy" (Shakespeare 290) near the desolation of Antarctica, Patagonia represents what Naples and Vesuvius were for 16th- and 17th-century travelers, the "Ultima Meta" (John Raymond) and the "Non Ultra of my Travells" (John Evelyn). Beyond that there was only "plaine and prodigious barbarism" (John Evelyn, 163).

(27) My Secret History (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1989), p. 406.

(28) Theroux quotes, among travel book incipits, Moravia's Which Tribe Do You Belong To? [A quale tribU appartieni? Milano: Bompiani, 1972]: "From the balcony of my room I had a panoramic view over Accra, capital of Ghana" (3; the translation of Moravia's quote is Theroux's)

(29 This is also the title of the last volume of Leonard Woolf's autobiography, The Journey Not The Arrival Matters (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969). Although Woolf implicitly attributes this quote to Montaigne, it is not found in the French philosopher's works, although it is typical of his fondness of roaming the world ("J'entreprens seulement de me branler, pendant que le branle me plaist; et me proumene pour me proumener," Essais, III, 9; "il n'allait, quant a luy, en nul lieu que la ou il se trouvait," Journal de voyage en Italie, I, 4).

(30) "The bus was uncomfortable, the road was bad, the food was awful, the weather was corrosive. But I had never been here before, which was justification enough" (The Pillars of Hercules. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1995, p. 395).

(31) Parts of this section were read at the conference on "Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period" at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL (November 2002) and the symposium on "Voyage et science" at the "Fondation Clews" at Chateau de La Napoule, France (June 2003).

(32) In Romance languages, however, verbs like tradurre, traduire, traducir come from trans-ducere, that indicates the activity of conveying something across a body of water, and thus, metaphorically, from one language to another or from a reality to its verbal or graphic representation.. Etymologically, a metaphor (from the Greek metaphora) is also a form of transferring a descriptive term from one object to another, different but analogous.

(33) Octavio Paz. Traduccion: literatura y literalidad (Barcelona: Tusquets, 1981), p. 7.

(34) Speaking on the strategic importance of visual observation and maps, Machiavelli suggested that the ruler should learn the basic notions of geographic strategy: " [...] e parte imparare la natura de' siti e conoscere come surgono e monti, come imboccono le valle, come iacciono e piani, ed intendere la natura de' fiumi e de' paduli; e in questa porre grandissima cura" (Principe, XIV).

(35) Returning to France after exploring the Mississippi Valley, Robert Cavelier de la Salle reported that this river emptied into the Gulf of Mexico near Matagorda Bay (now in Texas), "almost certainly falsifying its location to place it nearer the gold and silver of the Spanish colonies in order to increase the king's interest in colonizing that area" (Vaughn L. Glasgow, ed., in The sun King: Louis XIV and the New World. New Orleans, LA: The Louisiana Museum Foundation, 1984, p. 318). Soon cartographers engraved maps based on La Salle's account.

(36) Artists and scientists joined 18th-century expeditions to far away lands: Commerson embarked with Bougainville, Parkinson and Buchan with Captain Cook. Their function was to observe and record with graphic impartiality what would have been difficult to express verbally: flora, fauna, human customs. And painters documented the 1828 Champollion-Rosellini scientific mission to Egypt with a wealth of color drawings of hieroglyphs and frescoes as today's photographers routinely do for all geographic expeditions.

(37) Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765), whose Roman "capricci" provided Grand Tourists with a lasting memento of their visit, combined in his landscapes disparate monuments in imaginary compositions.

(38) Goethe's albums of sketches and the drawings by his friends, Tischbein and Kniep, are indispensable companions to his Italienische Reise. See Gerhard Femmel's Begleittext und Katalog zum Reprint von Goethes Reise-, Zerstreuungs- und Trostbuchlein (Leipzig: Insel, 1985), 2 vol., and Wolfgang von Oettingen's Goethe und Tischbein (Weimar: Goethe Gesellschaft, 1910), the source of Fig. 2; see also Disegni di Goethe in Italia, a cura di G. Femmel, intr. di L. Magnani (Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 1977). Among dozens of foreign artists who visited Italy, Edward Lear (1812-1888), the English nonsense poet, produced splendid lithographs for his Illustrated Journals of a Landscape Painter in Southern Calabria (London: Bentley, 1852), completing and documenting the narrative of his travels through southern Italy.

(39) A grandiose canvas by Albrecht Altdorfer, the Battle of Alexander at Issos (1529, Munchen, Alte Pinakothek), offers a rare aerial view of the Earth, evoking a geographer's perception of a large section of our planet, including the curving of the horizon.

(40) "So geographers, in Afric-maps, / With savage-pictures fill their gaps; / And o'er unhabitable downs /Place elephants for want of towns" ("On Poetry: A Rhapsody," 1: 177).That is why Fra Mauro, a 15th-century Venetian cartographer, giving up all efforts of putting some newly-found islands in his mappamondo, wrote on it, in the general area of the sea southeast of China: "In questo mar oriental sono molte insule grande e famose, le quali non ho posto, per non haver loco"; he repeated the same admission in the area of the Chinese Sea: "In questo mar sono molte insule, le quali non met[t]o, per non haver loco " (Placido Zurla, Il mappamondo di Fra Mauro. Venezia, 1806, p. 38).

(41) In John Dryden's introduction of his translation of Plutarch's Life of Theseus.

(42) See, infra, the discussion on the island of the Amazones, thought to be located near the island of California, according to the early Renaissance tendency to accumulate peculiar elements ("singularites," as French cartographers called them) marking the geographical mythology of distant lands.

(43) A 15th-century map (British Library, Harley MS 7182) sets this archipelago (Maniolae insulae antropofagorum) in the Arabian Sea (Pelagus Indicus), combining cannibals and lodestones, while it puts the Satyrorum insulae in the Bay of Bengal (Whitfield 12-13). Lestringant (1991, 121-124)discusses the description of this archipelago in Andre Thevet's Cosmographie universelle.

(44) This "island syndrome" was particularly dramatic in establishing the cartography of the immense Pacific Ocean, where many islands were still vaguely located in 18th-century maps and kept moving about. A case in point is a map of 1771, in which the cartographer who described the voyage of de Bougainville around the world wrote that the position, and even the existence, of the Solomon Islands was not clear ("l'existence et la position sont douteuses," Whitfield 123).

(45) See T. J. Cachey, jr., Le Isole Fortunate: appunti di storia letteraria italiana (Rome: L'Erma, 1995).

(46) Frank Lestringant has studied the myth of "Caloyeros," a dangerous island that appeared in many Isolari of the Mediterranean (Buondelmonti, delli Sonetti, Coronelli, Thevet, etc.). Although its location shifted to various locations, it represented a "spatial metonymy" and a "anthropomorphic metaphor" (1993, 36-41) of latent fears that perva ded Renaissance seafarers even in a "safe" sea.

(47) A spherical Earth had already been conjectured by Greek astronomers and its circumference calculated by Eratosthenes in the 3rd century B.C., yet in medieval times European mapmakers still drew the Earth as a flat circle (the so-called "T-map") surrounded by the ocean, the top half representing Asia and the bottom divided in two parts, Europe and Africa. Religious beliefs influenced this system, replacing scientific knowledge with preconceived formulas, suggesting either a rectangular Earth ("a quattuor plagis terrae," Is 11:12) or a circular one ("qui sedet super gyrum terrae," Is 40:22) with Jerusalem in the very middle of it ("in medio gentium posui," Ez 5:5). And, although a belief in the existence of the antipodes was at times considered heretical by some medieval authorities, Christian scholars like Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon accepted as fact the sphericity of the Earth.

(48) H. A. M. Heijden, Leo Belgicus: An Illustrated and Annotated Cart-bliography (Alphen aan de Rijn: Canaletto, 1990).

(49) Andre Thevet, La Cosmographie universelle (Paris: L'Huillier, 1575), 2: 907. See Ovid's claim, supra, pp. 20-21.

(50) Radolph Agas, A Preparative to Platting the Landes and Tenements for Surveigh (London: Th. Scarlet, 1596), pp. 4-5.

(51) For an analysis of the literary and political hoax of the Northwest Passage leading to the Strait of Anian that separated North America from Asia, see Adams 1962, 64-79.

(52) A letter by Verrazzano about his journey of discovery from Florida to Newfoundland (1523-1524) mentioned a narrow isthmus that was thought to separate the Atlantic from the sea of Cathay. Soon maps began to appear, showing a "Mare Indicum": Sebastian Munster gave this myth his authority and as late as 1651 John Farrer's map of Virginia stated that the Pacific shore was only ten days away from the Atlantic.

(53) Las Sergas de Esplandian, a romance by Garci Ordonez de Montalvo about the adventures of Esplandian, the son of Amadis of Gaul (also in Don Quijote's library), was a popular book, published in Seville in 1510. It helped to spread the the myth of California in Spain: "Sabed que a la diestra mano de las Indias, muy llegada a la parte del Paraiso Terrenal, la cual fue poblada de mujeres negras, sin que algun varon entre ellas hubiese, que casi como las amazonas era su estilo de vivir. [...] Las suas armas eran todas de oro, y tambien la guarniciones de las bestias feras en que, de las haber amansado, cabalgaban. [...] En esta isla, California llamada, habia muchos grifos, por la grande aspereza de la tierra y por las infinitas salvajinas que en ella habitaban. [...] Cualquiera varon que en la isla entrase, luego por ellas era muerto y comido"(ch. 157). This myth was so well accepted that even Columbus was convinced that his first voyage led him to the vicinity of the Earthly Paradise.

(54) A comparable situation occurred during the exploration of South America by Magellan, when the southernmost region was named Patagonia, from a monster found by Primaleon, son of Palmerin de Oliva, of the homonymous romance (Salamanca, 1511) found in Don Quixote's library with a similar Portuguese romance Palmerin de Ingalaterra.

(55) Among the best known among them: Antonio de Herrera (1622), Abraham Goos (1624), Henry Briggs (1625), John Speed (1626), Jan Jansson (1636), Pieter Goos (1666), Nicolas Sanson (1667), Nicolaas Visscher (1680), Giovanni Rossi (1687), Frederick de Wit (1688), John Senex (1711), and H. de Leth (1740).

(56) R. V. Tooley, California as an Island, in Map Collectors' Circle, no. 8 (London, 1964); Glenn McLaughlin and Nancy H. Mayo, The Mapping of California as an Island (Saratoga, CA: The California Map Society, 1995; Occasional Paper, no. 5).

(57) Cassini's map of France, in fact, showed a much smaller territory than what it was believed to be, prompting Louis XV to complain that his geographer had caused him to lose more territory than a failed military campaign.

(58) "El rigor en la ciencia," El hacedor (1960) in Obras completas (Barcelona: Emece, 1989), II, 225; the text had appeared in Borges's Historia universal de la infamia (1954). To transpose this concept into visual narrative, one could postulate a recording of a journey in which each day is documented by a 24-hour long video tape!

(59) Il secondo diario minimo (Milan: Bompiani, 1992), pp. 157-163.

(60) "Al andar se hace camino / y al volver la vista atras / se ve la senda que nunca / se ha de volver a pisar" (Antonio Machado, "Proverbios y cantares," CXXXVI, 29; see Monga 2000, 200).

(1) The Horatian dichotomy utile/dulce, at the foundation of all literary writing, becomes curieux/agreable in the 17th century (see the introduction to Bertaud's Journal), and leads to Locatelli's Baroque narrative strategies in his Viaggio di Francia. In 18thcentury Milan, Giuseppe Parini's conclusion to his ode "La salubrita dell'aria" (1759), a straight quotation from Horace, suggested a modern function for literature and fiction: "Va per negletta via / ognor l'util cercando / la calda fantasia / che sol felice e quando / l'utile unir puo al vanto / di lusinghievol canto" (127-132).

(2) Francesco Belli, Osservazioni nel viaggio (Venice: Pinelli, 1632), pp. 1-2.

(3) Claims of adhering to historical truth were commonplace in 18th-century England., as Defoe wrote in the preface to Robinson Crusoe: "the editor believes the thing to be a just history of fact; neither is there any appearance of fiction in it."

(4) Boccaccio did not succeed in convincing all his readers. Marguerite de Navarre admitted in the prologue of her Heptameron [1559] that, unlike Boccaccio, she proposed to write only true stories ("n'escripre nulle nouvelle qui ne soit veritable histoire").

(5) "Los historiadores que de mentiras se valen"--he wrote--habian de ser quemados, como los que hacen moneda falsa"; [...] "la historia es como cosa sagrada, porque ha de ser verdadera, y donde esta la verdad esta Dios" (Don Quijote, II, XXV).

(6) See Charles G. Osgood's discussion of this problem in his Boccaccio on Poetry (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1930), pp. XLII-XLVI.

(7) The two groups of Frenchmen of these travel journals met again at the ceremony of the consistory for Cardinal Mendoza: the two manuscripts here act as independent and reciprocal referential sources.

(8) Willis Barnstone, The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice (New Haven: Yale UP, 1993), p. 20. I owe this interesting bibliographical suggestion to my friend and colleague, Carmine Di Biase, of Jacksonville State University.

(9) Leandro Rodriguez. Cervantes en Sanabria: Ruta de Don Quijote de la Mancha. Zamora: Diputacion Provincial, 1999.

(10) See my essay "El viaje a Italia en las obras de Cervantes: ?Ficcion o autobiografia?" in Actas del I Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas: Melilla 26-30 junio de 1995 (Malaga: Alcazara, 1996), pp. 499-509.

(11) Vettori's Viaggio in Alamagna and Nerval's Voyage en Orient mix realistic travel narrative with fictional stories. But even the guidebook, arguably the most objective travel narrative, contains subjective elements; one can think of the number of stars that the Guide Michelin uses to indicate how beautiful and worthy a site is or the indication to consider a city is worth a trip or just a detour.

(12) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), 27:1030.

(13) The term illusion is etymologically connected with playing; ludere and in-ludere mix unwavering lies with a playful recollection of real events.

(14) A vague notion of distance is implied in many definitions of travel: "il recarsi da una localita all'altra, quando cio richieda diverso tempo" (Palazzi-Folena, 1992)), "transport qu'on fait de sa personne en des lieux esloignez" (Furetiere, 1690); "transport de sa personne d'un lieu ou l'on est dans un autre assez eloigne" (Jaucourt, 1765); "deplacement d'une personne qui se rend en un lieu assez eloigne" (Robert, 1972); "a journey by which one goes from one place to another (especially at considerable distance)" (OED).

(15) "I cannot say much about Brescia, for I took advantage of my time to have a decent meal. [...] But, before I got back to the coach, I was conscientious enough to ask my waiter for information about the city; so I found out, among other things, that Brescia has forty thousand people, a city hall, twenty-one coffee houses, twenty Catholic churches, an insane asylum, a synagogue, a zoo, a jail, a hospital and a theater equally good, and gallows for thieves who steal less than one hundred thousand tallers" (my translation; see Monga 1996, 54).

(16) The case of Andre Thevet (1516-1592) is symptomatic. Not a very well traveled individual, this "cosmographe du Roy" was a prolific writer of travel narratives who described the unicorn in his Cosmographie universelle. He was reprimanded in the 1771 Encyclopedie for allegedly describing hunting the unicorn in Africa with "le roy de Monomotapa" ("le mena a la chasse de la licorne, qui est frequente, dit-il [Thevet], en son royaume; et qu'il luy fit present de deux cornes de licornes, qu'il rapporta en France, dont il en donna une au Roy, qui est celle qu'on voit a present au tresor de saint Denis" (V, 520). But Thevet did not write this passage!
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Author:Monga, Luigi
Publication:Annali d'Italianistica
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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