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Posts tagged ‘Colonial Travel Writing’

From Timor to Mauritius: Matthew Flinders’ Island Identity

By Gillian Dooley
Flinders looked forward to a time when he could return to Mauritius, now a British possession. He wrote affectionate letters to his French friends there for the rest of his short life, imagining plans for bringing his wife with him to meet his island companions. But it was not to be. The chore of writing his Voyage ‘grew upon him’, as he phrased it, to such an extent that it used up all the time he had left.

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Nicholas Schmidle’s ‘To Live or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan’

By Mosarrap H Khan
Schmidle’s self-conscious description of his effort to become like a Pakistani resembles the effort of another traveler in another century: Edward Lane. In Orientalism, Said writes about Lane’s effort to submerge in the Egyptian population in order to give his work a more authentic feel. Said notes how “one portion of Lane’s identity floats easily in the unsuspecting Muslim sea, a submerged part retains its secret European power, to comment on, acquire, possess everything around it.”

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The Exotic Tropic of William and Thomas Daniell

By Himanshi Sharma
The travel of the Daniells from one exotic location to another to produce exquisite prints as a purely artistic project causes us to break away from the available template of looking at travel in India during British colonial rule as simply an activity of knowledge creation. By emphasising their use of aquatints, the Daniells did not only transport the Indian monuments but also the climate, light, and environment to their English audiences, who all had an uncle in the Orient but not always the ticket to visit them.

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Emily Eden in India: A British Memsahib’s Account of India through Travel and Letters (1837-1841)

By Ankita Das
The Edens reached Calcutta on 3 March, 1836, which incidentally was also Emily Eden’s 39th birthday. She was accompanying her brother, Lord Auckland (Governor General to India), along with her sister, Fanny Eden. On October 1837, they left Calcutta for a two and half year tour across the northern provinces of India, with an entourage of twelve thousand people, eight hundred and fifty camels, one hundred forty elephants, and sixty horses. Their journey route was from Calcutta to Simla via Benaras, Simla to Lahore, Lahore to Simla, and finally back to Calcutta.

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Book Review: Mark Shand’s ‘Travels on my Elephant: An Indian Journey’

By Sridhi Dash
Shand has interspersed the travelogue with ample excerpts from nineteenth and twentieth century European texts on elephants. He seems to long to return for a touristic sightseeing of the poverty and deterioration of India after the British had sucked the subcontinent dry of all its resources and riches. There appears to be no hint of guilt for the colonial sins committed by his forefathers as he revels with his small army, fulfilling his fantasy of being a modern day Tarzan.

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