In a nation struggling to establish its own identity, all kinds of Americans, for all kinds of reasons, were enchanted with Europe. A European trip, whether extravagant or modest, could serve social advancement, aesthetic enrichment, or personal curiosity. Travel allowed men and women, the descendants of European settlers or African slaves, to shed their familiar surroundings and comfortable personas, adopt new roles, and measure themselves against the European experience. These travelers were often also writers. Throughout the nineteenth century, celebrated authors and beginners alike published newspaper columns, magazine articles, guidebooks, travel essays, letters, and novels based on their European journeys. In Going Abroad, Stowe examines not only classic works by such writers as Irving, Fuller, Twain, James, and Adams, but also lesser-known works by African-American authors, journalists, feminist writers, and diarists. Travel and the writing of it were important, Stowe argues, in molding a peculiarly democratic, yet essentially class-based, sense of personal and group identity. Combining literary and cultural analysis, he suggests new ways of understanding nineteenth-century Americans' concept of their nation and its place in the world.
Originally published in 1994.
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"Through diaries, newspaper articles, guidebooks, and magazine essays, Stowe examines the personal and social reasons that well-known travelers such as Emerson, Twain, and Henry Adams, as well as African Americans like David F. Dorr and women like Margaret Fuller, sailed east. . . . These writers used their traveling experience to hone writing skills and create a literary style, much the same as travel writers do today."--Library Journal
". . . an almost sociological reading of some American travel literature. . . . Works by writers like Mark Twain, Henry James, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving and others (including the African-American writers William Wells Brown and David F. Dorr) are reviewed to show how travel literature helped forge not only the identity of the nascent American nation but also the travelers' own identity."--New York Times Book Review
"The ways in which the Old World was used and represented by American writers in the development of their nation's own cultural identity is a large, important and fascinating theme which Professor Stowe comprehends and examines in great deal."--Times Literary Supplement
"Beginning with the work of Washington Irving, travel literature was a popular art form in 19th-century America. . . . This volume effectively shows the evolution of the genre's conventions, the socioeconomic roots of its popularity, and the multiplicity of its social, cultural, and aesthetic functions."--Choice
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by William W. Stowe: