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Guest-Editorial – Travel Writing: A mode of constructing knowledge

By Raeesa Usmani 

“The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Travel locates our worldly progression. Traveling is one thing everyone does at various levels, in various forms. Travel makes one less prejudiced, adaptable and tolerant about the pool of ideas, peoples, and objects. It makes one more independent, as the traveller breaks away from familiar people and places while residing among unknown people, on an unknown space. While encountering a variety of foreign customs and traditions, travel makes one aware of different culture, history, religion, belief, tradition, and lifestyle of the residents living at distant places. One might end up exploring, in the process, more about one’s own self, culture, society, which might lead one to appreciating one’s own culture and customs.

2019 was celebrated as the 300th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and its literary legacy. The incredible combination of fact and fiction in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe has established the foundation of the realistic fiction, all the while evincing the close interrelationship between novel and travel writing. This issue of Café Dissensus on travel writing addresses various facets of travel writing over the period. Travel writing is a contemporary, potential developing genre with a number of possibilities to explore and investigate.

The issue has contributions on a variety of intriguingly personal, factual as well as fictitious permutations by authors from across South Asia, including essays from Bangladesh, Arkansas (US), and Italy. The issue includes photo essays, memoirs, book reviews and critical/academic essays.

The reader, I believe, gets a quick peek into experiences at individual yet collective level of the authors – in the form of photo-essays and memoirs, of the books reviewed, in addition to a few books that are looked at with a critical perspective, by the contributors who come from distinct walks of life. They offer multifaceted voices of longing, observation, opinion and reminiscence which are striking, challenging, absorbing and personal, all at the same time, since travelling and writing about it always has a fine subjective tinge. The touch that helps us in becoming a better version of ourselves by expanding our subjective and/or objective outlook in the process of letting one get connected with one’s self and the global community, personally or virtually, gradually making oneself more adaptable not only for others but for oneself too. It also helps one to look within while exploring the larger, exotic world as well as “makes one modest” and enable “you” to “see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” (Flaubert 220).

Photo: The Jakarta Post

Raeesa Usmani is an Assistant Professor in English at Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology, Surat, Gujarat, India. She is a multitasker and perfectly juggles her time between teaching, blogging and composing poetry. An avid reader of world literature, she also works as a freelance translator and has a few famed projects to her name. Currently she is working on her doctorate in English Language Teaching and editing a few reputed journals in the capacity of an invited guest editor. She authored a non-fiction book, Life: An Intriguing Rollercoaster (Ukiyoto publishing, 2020).


For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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