Monday, 31 March 2014


I may be exaggerating in stating that my desire to travel was born because of my love of books. This notion had never actually crossed my mind until I got involved in Charlie’s project of analysing the effect of narrative on travel. By the age of fourteen I had read nearly every book J.R.R Tolkien had written. I wanted to explore Middle Earth. And eventually I did, four years later I spent over a month in New Zealand exploring everywhere from Hobbiton to the peak of Mt Ngaruhoe (commonly known as Mordor)! But what does one normally do before travelling to a destination? Why of course read a travel guide. The Lonely Planet, Rough Guides or any other guide. And I too have done so multiple times. Yet this time I am heading to Concarneau and all I have read is a novel; The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon. And this is where the beauty of books is revealed. You conceive in your mind an idea, a picture of what you read. From reading the novel I have my own idea of what Concarneau looks like. There are specific areas described in the book which I hope to recognise when out there. Yet there is of course the time displacement to take into consideration, The Yellow Dog was written nearly one hundred years ago. Of course Concarneau will have changed by now, developed. But this is what makes me even more curious. In a way I want to go out there and become inspector Maigret. Look for clues to compare the small coastal town Simenon lived in and wrote about in the 1920’s to the Concarneau of today. 

Friday, 28 March 2014


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”, this is probably my all-time favourite quote written by St Augustine. I want to travel. All my life I have wanted to travel. To discover new places, the remoter the better.  It is only when traveling that I feel truly at peace with myself. Any journey is for me as much a journey of self-discovery as of discovery of an unknown environment. In just under two weeks we leave for Concarneau. It is still too soon for me to have the butterflies in my stomach as one might have just before leaving on any trip, but excitement is mounting. This time anticipation for travel is greater than usual. I would classify myself as a very spontaneous and last minute traveller. On the 3rd of January I went to Paris, I booked the flight the day before!! This time planning and research have gone into organizing the journey. I think this is the first time I've read a book set somewhere and then specifically planned to go and visit that place. The idea of participating in Charlie’s doctoral research into Literary Tourism just gives the trip all the more value. The build-up this time is greater, I’m getting more excited as I write this. I hope the weather is good because as Simenon says in The Yellow Dog that “It takes but a single sunbeam to transform Concarneau”. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Unknown Town Project

The title of this web journal or web-log is drawn from the work of Antoine Compagnon where he writes of the novel as being like an unknown town, in which he wanders:

Un roman est comme une ville inconnue dans laquelle je déambule. 
(Compagnon 2006, 798)

The postings to this Travel Journal, or Carnet de Voyage, are by Antonio Nobile acting as a case participant for the field research of Charlie Mansfield.  The Unknown Town Project has a whole range of aims: 

  • to develop travel writing and journal writing skills
  • to test the themes discovered in contemporary travel writing
  • to provide a corpus of textual data on which grounded theory coding can be applied
  • to ask 'what is tourism knowledge?' and see how it is created by writing
  • to explore how value is created for visitors 
  • to explore Concarneau (our ville inconnue) with the aid of the Georges Simenon detective novel, The Yellow Dog (Le Chien jaune).    
Each day through the planning, reading and travelling AN will take one of these 16 themes as a prompt for his diary or journal entry:

Thematic Anatomy of the Late Twentieth-Century French Travel Text

Mounting excitement at the prospect of the journey, but also see xéniteia below.
Preparatory reading
Identity shifts possible in new clothing at the destination.
Thomas 2003
Displacement and time are components of travel movement so verb tenses will provide inroad to textual practice.
The travel text will add to the stock of knowledge.
Foucault 1966
Food & Drink, meal-taking
Strange new foods.  Meals prepared by someone else.  A pause in the journey is invested with more.
Kostova 2003
Images, sights,
The travel writer will see new and beautiful things, like views of Paris as a picture postcard.
The strange language may not appear connected to the travel writer’s own world.  Writer may choose to incorporate found texts, spoken or written.
Rolin 1995
Printed page will use white space as part of structure of travel text, reminiscent of the map
Diderot 1796 Ernaux 1993 and 2000
Responsibility shift
Traveller is at ease, responsibility seems removed allowing traveller to behave outside home conventions.
Self-identity inscribed in the text as exote but entropy may be at work
Forsdick 2000 after Segalen
Mode of transport contributes to literariness of text.
Giard and Certeau 1990 after Verne
Sights and new people will recall previous literary or artistic readings.
Scott 2004
The travel writer will report the ‘truth’
Diderot 1796
Used to render simultaneously truthfulness and literariness.
Rolin 1995
Deciding what to take with you on the voyage and what to leave behind.  Putting affairs in order to live an organised life.
Barthes 1977 (edition 2002)

Reference to cite this table from page 75    (Mansfield 2012, 75)

Mansfield, C. (2012) Traversing Paris: French Travel Writing Practices in the Late Twentieth Century; an Analysis of the Work of Annie Ernaux, François Maspero and Jean Rolin, Saarbrücken, AV Akademikerverlag. ISBN 3639441281


Barthes, Roland (2002) Comment vivre ensemble Paris, Seuil & IMEC.

Diderot, Denis (1796) Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, Paris, abbée Bourdet de Vauxcelles [Edition used and cited here is: Chinard, Gilbert (1935) Diderot – Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville Oxford, Oaris, London & Baltimore, John Hopkins Press and OUP.]

Ernaux, Annie (1993) Journal du dehors Paris, Gallimard.
— (2000) La Vie extérieure Paris, Gallimard.

Forsdick, Charles (2000) Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity – Journeys between Cultures, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Foucault, Michel (1963) Naissance de la clinique Paris, PUF.
— (1966) Les mots et les choses – Une archéologie des sciences humaines Paris, Gallimard.
— (1969) L’Archéologie du savoir Paris, Gallimard NRF.
— (1970) The Order of Things London, Routledge.
               [English translation of Les mots et les choses with new Foreword]
— (1975) Surveiller et punir : naissance de la prison Paris, Gallimard.

Giard, Luce (ed) [Certeau, Michel de] (1990) L’invention du quotidien – 1. arts de faire Paris, Gallimard Folio Essais [new edition introduced and edited by Luce Giard]

Kostova, Ludmilla (2003) ‘Meals in Foreign Parts: Food in Writing by Nineteenth-Century British Travellers to the Balkans’ in Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing Volume 4, Number 1, 2003, pp.21-44,  Oxford and New York, Berghahn Books.   

Mansfield, C. (2014) Research Methods in Tourism and Place-Making, Toureme [online] Available at: [Accessed 24.12.14].

Nobile, A. (2014) The Unknown Town Project, [online] Available at: [Accessed 24.12.14].

Rolin, Jean (1995) Zones Paris, Gallimard.
— (1996) L’Organisation Paris, Gallimard.
— (2005) Terminal Frigo Paris, POL.

Scott, D. (2004) Semiologies of Travel from Gautier to Baudrillard Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Thomas, D. (2003) ‘Fashion Matters: La Sape and Vestimentary Codes in Transnational Contexts and Urban Diasporas.’ in Francophone Studies: New Landscapes, Modern Language Notes, (118)4, pp.947-973. Edited by Françoise Lionnet and Dominic Thomas.

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