Long Essay: Here and There | The Literature of Travel



3.      “By contrast with the traveller, whose rewards are hard-won, the tourist merely pays for a privilege that is inexorably destroyed by being attained – and destroyed for everyone.   Tourism is intrinsically incompatible with travelling.  The traveller merges temporarily with a region and its people, as tourists cannot do”.  (Dervla Murphy, “Reflections on Travel Writing”).

“Tourism is to travel as plastic is to wood”.  (Paul Fussell).

Examine the commonly drawn distinction between “travel” and “tourism” through reference to a variety of texts studied this semester.


There is a commonly drawn distinction between “travel” and “tourism” but the extent of this is minimal.  What needs to be ascertained is why there is a connection between travel and tourism and how certain travel texts can prove this thesis.  By using extracts mostly from autobiographies and one novel I hope to exemplify this.  The correlation between England and factors such as class structure, imperialism and culture, as compared to certain other countries in the world, will be used to articulate the theme of this essay.  What needs to be emphasised is that both travel and tourism are of equal significance but most notable is the fact that one compliments the other in explaining this point.

Firstly, Sinclair Lewis (1987:684) expresses in his novel “Dodsworth”, a story based on a ‘first order tourist’.  According to D. Redfoot (1984:293), a first order tourist is seldom alone and usually travels with his family or a tourist group.  While the story begins with a reference to ship travel its basis is on train travel and its costs and benefits.  What needs to be established is that of course there is an element of travel here as a means of our protagonists exploring England and France, and the significance of the United States in realising this perception.[1]

However, it is our heroes Sam and Fran and their interaction with the different cultures which forms the basis of this juxtaposition.  According to M. Crick (1989:315), tourism is primarily focused on class structure and imperialism, and of course culture.[2]  These forces are evident in the story as England is portrayed as I maintaining traditional values such as the home, religious beliefs and the monarchy.  Marital breakdown to some extent has been avoided in England compared to the widespread trend found in the United States.  In relation to France, our protagonists enjoyed Paris, as it was considered a satellite city of the United States.[3]

Sinclair Lewis (1987:695) explains that there was a lack of “foreignness” experienced by Sam and Fran in Paris as…

…“Somehow”… “it wasn’t quite right that French trees and grass should be of the same green, French earth of the same brown, French sky of the same blue, as in a natural, correct country like America”...

This shows the sensitivity expressed by Sam and Fran in their attitude towards Paris.  There was also a connection made with England.  We find that…

…“After the tight little fenced fields of England, the wide Picardy plains, green with approaching April, seemed to (Sam) extraordinarily like the prairies of Illinois and Iowa.[4]

While Paris is depicted as being a major European city, which despite its expected urban problems has preserved the beauty and serenity of a well maintained American counterpart.  On the other side of the same coin, rural England was parallel in having a well appreciated similarity with the prairie communities of early America, where life was serene and natural.

Sinclair Lewis (1987:692) places England, in a subordinate position in front of Sam’s native America as or protagonist is being entertained.  Here Sam is confronted with a place where…

…“an English gentleman was represented as being the lover of a decent woman, wife of a chemist, and as protesting against running away with her because then they would be unable to continue having tea and love together at the husband’s expense.  And the English audience, apparently good honest people, laughed”...[5]

A personification of adultery being approved is expressed here.  While doing so the tourist, Sam, actually finds English society as being subordinate, morally, to America.

Similarly, Sinclair Lewis (1987:696) degrades Paris as relating it to “an insane asylum”.  It was considered (Paris) as having dirty alleyways.  And the architecture of certain buildings such as houses were considered as representing relics of the French Revolution which were “shocking” in the Latin quarter.[6]

These two degrading images of England and France pinpoint the extent of America’s sphere of influence in tourism and travel.  While Sam was on his first journey as a traveller, he initially wanted to explore a desirable part of Western culture, generally applauded by most people for what it offered to newcomers.  However, when Sam and Fran travelled as tourists and actually experienced the true nature of English and Parisian life, the case was felt otherwise.

Jan Morris (1972:716) is a ‘second order tourist’.  D. Redfoot (1984:295-296) defines this kind of tourist travelling alone and as not taking photographs.[7]  We find this evident as the protagonist travels through Kashmir alone.  But even more important is the emphasis placed on British imperialism, culture, primitive life, and class structure, as many of the inhabitants of Kashmir are living in poverty.  Although this gave a perception of “haunting melancholy” to the traveller in question, the beauty of the Himalayas was a sharp contrast to the extremities in the wealth distribution of the natives.[8]

Morris states:

…“The vale of Kashmir is like a fourth dimension – outside the ordinary shape of things.  About 100 miles long by twenty miles wide, it is entirely enclosed by mountains of great height and splendour – a green scoop in the Himalayan massif, hidden away among the snow-ranges, desperately inaccessible until the coming of aircraft, and still magically remote in sensation…It is not exactly an escape – one does not escape into an enclave.  It is a mood of transference or even apotheosis: a trip without drugs, a pot-less ecstasy”…[9]

The panoramic view expressed here shows the immense beauty of the Himalayas, something both breathtaking and overwhelming to a traveller.  However, as a tourist, where the experience of travel intensifies, the situation is more clear cut.  With the above reference to drugs, or the feeling of a “high”, we should mention that not only did hippies enjoy such a landscape but also the British enjoyed the Kashmir region and found it to be the ultimate form of escape from the burdens of the mother country.

Jan Morris (1972:718) also states that in terms of class structure, houseboats are significant here.  Although widely used by the natives of Kashmir for a lengthy period of time the British element to such a means of transportation needs a mention.  Kashmiris always made use of houseboats of some sort, and they were designed in a primitive sense... “straw-thatched, craft like arks, chock-a-block with cooking-pots, washing lines and chicken-coops, leaking wood-smoke from their every crack and often ominously clamped together with iron struts.  However with British imperialism the advent of an English “pleasure craft” (or houseboat) was invented.  It consisted of Victorian furniture, its own kitchen, resident servants, and had other pleasures such as cigars, roses and curry”.[10]

This is a stark contrast to the poverty- stricken natives.  While the Kashmiris inhabited the houseboats merely as a form of shelter, the wealthy and supposedly well-to-do British colonists enjoyed the luxury and pleasure of this means of accommodation to fulfil their selfish means of personal gratification.

Cyril Connolly (1963:501) provides an autobiography with a focus on a ‘third-order tourist’.  D. Redfoot (1984:299) defines such a tourist as one who has an encounter with being in other cultures, like an anthropologist.[11]  The story is centred around Greece and Italy.[12]

A contrast is made by Cyril Connolly (1963:501) between the two countries with interesting consequences.  But even more notable is that this tourist expresses firstly the inadequacy in personal satisfaction from travel, which shows the dishonesty expressed by many travellers.[13]

Connolly states...

“How much of a holiday is spent lying on one’s back in planes, trains, cabins, beaches and hotel bedrooms, the guidebook held aloft like an awning?  We really travel twice – as a physical object resembling a mummy or small wardrobe-trunk which is shuttled about at considerable expense; and as a mind married to a “Guide Bleu”, always reading about the last place or the next one”...[14]

Cyril Connolly (1963:503) points out that basic things such as paintings and statues are subordinate in significance to a simple photograph.  This shows a lack of appreciation in Western culture.  Although this may be true in the story discussed, surely such an opinion cannot be widespread amongst all tourists.[15]

In a hypocritical manner, Cyril Connolly (1963:504) complements Greek Islands such as Rhodes.  It is considered the “perfect” destination for a holiday and as being not “too large nor too small”.  While on the subject of culture, Delphi and Delos are pinpointed.[16]

Cyril Connolly (1963:505) states...“Delphi’s mountain womb remains one of the holy places of the human spirit, Delos is complex and baffling, irreverent even in its piety…the commercial Roman town (Delos) survives in better shape than the Greek…”

History is given due respect here by the traveller who is able to adequately describe in essence the degree of tranquillity found in Delphi and Delos.[17]

D.H. Lawrence (1921:475) presents the characters in his story as third-order tourists.  Sardinia is like no other place.  It has no past, date, race or offering.  But this is compared with Italy (in 1921) where it was covered with dirty Italian currency which was... “ragged, unsavoury paper money so thick upon the air that one breathes it like some greasy fog” (p.479).[18]

Lawrence is portrayed as a traveller and a tourist.  We can view him as a traveller as he describes the Italian rural area.  However of equal importance is the comprehensive depiction he provides of the remoteness.  Namely as a tourist, Lawrence appreciates the former countryside with its glorious roadways.  But also the “old” Italy maintained its qualities to allow transport such as cars to provide an adequate form of travel both for Lawrence himself and the natives.

However this is in stark contrast to the impressive roadways and countryside, Lawrence (1921:484-485) expresses the excitement of travelling on the... “frozen road, to see the grass in shadow bluish with hoar-frost, to see the grass in the yellow winter sunrise beams melting and going cold-twinkly”... (p.484).  Lawrence (1921:485) was impressed by Italy’s roads as they offered a kind of dangerous adventure.  The railway lines in certain places such as Calabria, down towards Reggio, were likewise as they pierced through rocks for some distance.  But what should be noted is that all the peasants loved the high-road.[19]

Lawrence (1921:486) points out that the peasantry wanted open roads in an avoidance of Italy’s supposedly isolation.  They wanted (the peasants) to travel form one village to the other in one movement.  The importance of transport such as trains as previously mentioned and of course automobiles is significant here.  Lawrence was “charmed” by their own primitive wildness, meaning the surrounding environment such as the grass and bushes.[20]

A vivid juxtaposition is made here with England and the so-called realistic Italy as seen in this rural environment.

Lawrence states:

...“One begins to realise how old the real Italy is, how man-gripped and how withered.  England is far more wild and savage and lonely, in her country pasts.  Here since endless centuries [in Italy] man has tamed the impossible mountain-side into terraces, he has quarried the rock, he has fed his charcoal, he has been half domesticated even among the wildest fastnesses.  This is what is so attractive about the remote places…It is human life.  And the wildest country is half humanised…It is all conscious”…[21]

Here the beauty of rural Italy is personified through the peasantry and their environment.  What is important is that this group has adapted to their surroundings and where necessary the careful alteration of it, this “remote” area, has been “humanised”.  One should say it has been civilised to the extent where the region has been beautified greater than in other countries like England.

Paul Theroux (1975:804-820) describes a story where a third-order tourist is involved.  This story depicts a considerable amount of travelling.  At first, we are introduced to the poverty of the sub continent and the arrogance expressed by the British towards such a misfortune.  But secondly and most importantly, meaning of the “true” India is explained.  What should be mentioned is that only as a “tourist” and by actually “travelling” to the villages of this country was a comprehensive account of Indian society and culture established.  This shows the relevance of the country’s somewhat primitive area as having value both to the newcomer and to the natives as a whole.[22]

While still on the subject of the sub-continent, Theroux (1975:807-808) points out the extremity of poverty in Pakistan while travelling on the train and looking out a window.  What he observed by the railway tracks was the following:

…“men with bullocks and submerged plows, preparing a rice field for planting; and at Badami Bagh, just outside Lahore, a town of grass huts, cardboard shelters, puptents, and hovels of paper, twigs, and cloth, everyone was in motion – sorting fruit, folding clothes, fanning the fire, shooing a dog away, mending a roof.  It is the industry of the poor in the morning, so busy they look hopeful, but it is deceptive”…[23]

Two points need to be made here.  Firstly, that the Pakistanis in this town were simple but primitive.  Their poverty can be found in the homes they live in, their diet, means of shelter (as it was a cardboard roof).  They lacked the wealth and material possessions of Western society in particular, the British.  What is significant is that “everyone was in motion” and therefore their time was occupied meaningfully.  They looked hopeful in this sense because they maintained a lifestyle where to some extent they were self-sufficient.  But why was all this imagery and personification of an industry where the “poor” people were maintaining a content lifestyle “deceptive”?[24]

It is because, Theroux (1975:808) points out, the character considered was a native Indian but possessed a British passport.  This enabled him to enter the prosperous society of the Common Market which promised well sought after privileges and prosperity.  We find an element of racism present.  When asked to stay in London, the Indian replies that everyone is a racist, starting from a young age.  One young Indian person in London is battered with abusive language such as wog, nigger, and blackie.  The problem is almost impossible to solve.  The child in focus also may experience physical violence known as “Paki-bashing”, even if one is not a Pakistani.[25]

Directing our attention to a second significant aspect of the story we encounter another character who travels to India in an attempt to cure himself of a heroin habit.  What startled my attention is that this story also takes place on the train but that to comprehend the “real India”, according to the Indians, you have to travel to the villages.  Yet this is not totally true since the Indians themselves have transported their villages to the railway stations in the cities to some extent.[26]

Theroux (1975: 818-819) expresses the importance of the railway station or as he puts it, “the station village”, to exemplify village life in India.  What strikes me as interesting is that the traveller in question here experiences more of India, even urban India, such as the important commercial and cultural centre of Delhi as it is viewed from the “interior”.  What one means is that both in a typical Indian village, and a major city like Delhi, the intense or real perspective of Indian society and culture is “denied” to a tourist.  And only when the tourist actually experiences the culture of true Indian society and for one moment rejects his own can a comprehensive depiction of “all” Indian society and culture be projected.[27]  This can be seen where Theroux (1975:818-819) states:

…“The village in rural India tells the visitor very little except that he is required to keep his distance and limit his experience of the place to tea or a meal in a shifty parlor.  The life of a village, its interior, is denied to him”...[28]  Also... “But the station village is all interior, and the shock of this exposure made me hurry away.  I didn’t feel I had any right to watch people bathing under a low faucet – naked among the incoming tide of office workers; men sleeping late on their charpoys (bedsteads) or tucking up their turbans; women with nose rings and cracked yellow feet cooking stews of begged vegetables over smoky fires, suckling infants, folding bedrolls, children pissing on their toes; little girls in oversized frocks falling from their shoulders, fetching water in tin cans from the third class toilet; and, near a newspaper vendor, a man lying on his back, holding a baby up to admire and tickling it”.[29]

Even though Theroux is travelling through India, especially the villages, he is really only passing through the area.  In essence he is actually trying to understand and explore this culture so therefore this makes him just as much a traveller as a tourist.  He sees the country like an anthropologist would, but he (Theroux) remains separate from Indian culture as he views it from a distanced perspective.

While due respect must be given to the analysis of tourism and travel a fair balance must be provided in doing as such to both areas.  We find that tourism and travel were present in the five extracts studied.  It appears that although an element of travel was evident in each one a bit more emphasis was placed by the authors and myself on tourism.  One is referring here to the classification of tourists as first or second order tourist etc.  It was one thing to travel but another to experience the destination as a tourist to gain a knowledge and experience of it.  Nevertheless, only through the principal pursuit of travel could any of the above have been accomplished therefore verifying the link between travel and tourism.  The former possesses the quality of initiating the journey by people while the latter simply extends on this point.

Annotated Bibliography

1.      Connolly, Cyril, Revisiting Greece.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

An excellent account of Greek culture.  While emphasis was placed on the Greek islands this was justified as a comprehensive insight was provided.

2.      Crick, M., Representations of International Tourism in the Social Sciences, JNL: Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol.18, 1989.

Gave an overview of tourism and travel.  Related it to class structure, imperialism and of course culture.

3.      Fussell, Paul, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

An excellent volume of extracts from World Travel.  While giving a brilliant overview of travel and tourism, the reader was enlightened by such issues.

4.      Lawrence, D.H., From Sea And Sardinia.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

Expresses an account of Italy today compared with the past.  A good juxtaposition of the country now and then which shows that not only the Italians but their environment was interesting.

5.      Lewis, Sinclair, From Dodsworth.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

The only story which involved first order tourists.  Gave a good juxtaposition between the United States and Western Europe, namely England and France.  I found it interesting that just how Americans are full of patriotism to a greater degree today compared to other countries, this apparently was more or less always the case.

6.      Morris, Jan, From Places:  Kashmir.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

Gave an interesting account of mountainous Asia, namely the Himalayan region which is open to many for adventure.  A good descriptive analysis of the region.

7.      Redfoot, D., Touristic Authenticity, Touristic Angst and Modem Reality, JNL: Quantitative Sociology, Vol.7, No.4, Winter 1984.

Very important journal.  It assisted me in classifying to some extent the tourists.  It gave me an understanding that there is not merely just one type of tourist in the world, i.e. mainstream.

8.      Theroux, Paul, From the Great Railway Bazaar.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987.

It showed a double-sided approach to British imperialism.  While the mother country benefited from enlightening India and Pakistan the people of these two former colonies felt otherwise.  It expresses a more inside approach to racism, poverty and class struggle where British imperialism did little to rectify the problem.


[1] Sinclair Lewis, From Dodsworth.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987. p684.

[2] M. Crick, Representations of International Tourism in the Social Sciences, JNL: Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol.18, 1989, p.315.

[3] Lewis, op cit, p.692.

[4] Lewis, op cit, p.695.

[5] Lewis, op cit, p.692.

[6] Lewis, op cit, p.696.

[7] D. Redfoot, Touristic Authenticity, Touristic Angst and Modern Reality, JNL: Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter, 1984, pp.295-296.

[8] Jan Morris, From Places:  Kashmir.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987, p.716.

[9] Morris, op cit, p.721.

[10] Morris, op cit, p.718.

[11] Redfoot, op cit, p.299.

[12] Cyril Connolly, Revisiting Greece.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987, p.501.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Connolly, op cit, p.502.

[15] Connolly, op cit, p.503.

[16] Connolly, op cit, p.504.

[17] Connolly, op cit, p.505.

[18] D.H. Lawrence, From Sea and Sardinia.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987, p.475.

[19] Lawrence, op cit, pp.484-485.

[20] Lawrence, op cit, p.486.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Paul Theroux, From the Great Railway Bazaar.  In Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel, New York, W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1987, pp.804-820.

[23] Theroux, op cit, p.808.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Theroux, op cit, pp.817-818.

[27] Theroux, op cit, pp.818-819.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.