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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 90 | volume XVI | May-June, 2013



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 90May-June, 2013

Poetics of Travel, Traveling of Poet(ic)s

(Ten unfinished answers to the question: Why do writers travel?)

p. 1
Vladimir Martinovski

I would like to take this occasion to pose one seemingly simple question “Why do writers travel?”. We might try to offer some possible answers, though we might find right away counter-arguments for each of them, or at least diagnose some of their Achilles’ heel.

1. Writers travel to see and experience something New

As a traveler, the writer gets to see things which can stimulate his imagination. „The observer is a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes“ – says Charles Baudelaire, who states in the final verse of his famous poem „The Voyage“ that the key motif of his concept of traveling is to jump deep in the Unknown seeking something new!
    Yet, whether today in this digital age ruled by the screen culture of perception which enables us to watch images/photos/shots from every possible spot on the face of this Earth, we have to ask ourselves whether Baudelaire’s dream of “something new” is still valid?
    One possible lucid response is given by Italo Calvino who, even before the expansion of the internet, agreed that yes, we have at our fingertips pictures from everywhere in this world, but not its tastes and fragrances!

* * *
A cynical counter to this thesis that traveling is a search for something New might be given with the old proverb that “There’s nothing new under the Sun”.

2. Writers travel because they want to write something New after their travels end

Starting from the ancient epics up until today’s travelogues, the art of the written word has manifested its profound and almost unbreakable bond with the subject of traveling. Talking about this underlying connection between literature and the topos of traveling, Heinrich Heine comes to the conclusion that “travelogue is the most original and most natural form of the novel”.
    As proponents of the old maxim that “you haven’t truly lived if you haven’t travelled”, some writers (from Voltaire and Byron to London and Yourcenare) consider traveling to be one of the main pre-conditions for their literary work, while others (from Wang Wei and Basho to Kerouac and White) have written their best works on the road. Riding in the Paris subway, Georges Perec wrote poems, while some writers have written whole volumes flying on an airplane.

* * *
There’s no doubt that some writers have described what they have previously experienced on their adventures and travels (from Herodotus and Marco Polo to Ibn Batura and Flaubert), yet we mustn’t overlook the

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