Author (Your Name)

James McLaughlin, Colby College

Date of Award

2006

Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)

Department

Colby College. English Dept.

Advisor(s)

Anindyo Roy

Abstract

The “traveling imagination,” is of paramount importance to both western and postcolonial travelers. Since both groups create “travel imaginations” by extensive reading, the nature of the books that inform them must directly affect their travels. A westerner, for example, who reads only colonial-era accounts has the “travel imagination” of a different generation. If all perspectives were represented equally in libraries, the “travel imagination” of a given person would be entirely his/her own. But usually the “traveler’s imagination” is biased by prevailing opinion. Libraries are not democracies, and sometimes extensive reading only indoctrinates the reader with the biases of the canon. Perhaps the following generalization will be helpful. Westerners are able to create “traveling imaginations,” based on the books they trust. But postcolonials, who have reason to be suspicious of what they read, have complicated “traveling imaginations.” Sometimes postcolonial travelers base their “traveling imaginations” on what they read, and sometimes, in opposition to what they read.

The books discussed in this thesis, In Patagonia, The Cruise of the Shark, The Happy Isles of Oceania, A Passage to England and The Enigma of Arrival, were first published in, 1977, 1939, 1992, 1971 and 1987, respectively, in what Ali Behdad calls the “age of colonial dissolution.” Perhaps it would be more accurate to say these books are set in the “age of colonial demolition.” For the most part, the empires in these texts are in ruins, or at least in the process of being dismantled. In fact, two of the authors, Nirad Chaudhuri and V.S. Naipaul are canonical post-colonial thinkers.

Keywords

Postcolonial literature, traveling, traveling imagination