Travel and Literature

The desire to acquire more knowledge, to permeate one’s own culture and the need to establish contacts with other cultures, with alterity generated the first recorded travels in human history. In the European cultural tradition, the central archetypal figure of traveller is Ulysses. In Asian literatures, the theme of travel is exploited in works such as The Epic of Gilgamesh or Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The literature of travel and exploration was generated and developed in close connection with the idea of alterity and intercultural dialogue. Trade represented one of the most important causes of the intercultural dialogue that led to the development of this type of literature. Herodotus was one of the pioneers of the literature of travel and exploration, a literary genre developed by travellers such as Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Antonio Pigafetta, Nicolae Milescu or Alexandra David-Néel.

The recordings about Orient started with Marco Polo’s book which bore the title Il Milione and continued with the Romanian writer Nicolae Milescu’s works entitled The Description of China and Siberian Diary and Alexandra David-Néel’s My Journey to Lhasa.


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