Sunday, January 19, 2014

Essays on Travels to the Holy Land: Perceptions, Representations and Narratives

Available online at Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History, "Travels to the 'Holy Land': Perceptions, Representations and Narratives" is a collection of thoughtful studies, edited by Serena Di Nepi and Arturo Marzano, on travel to the Holy Land from the nineteenth century to the present, though with an emphasis on 19th-century travel. The starting point for the essays in this collection is the realization that, at the basis of all travel literature, is the duality between real experience and imagination. While each half of this duality is represented by its own genre (namely, "odeporic" or real and imagined travel writing), Holy Land travel writing often represents a combination of the real and imagined, the experiential and the notional. With this observation in mind, the focus shifts from using travel literature for historical reconstruction to an appreciation of perception and creative synthesis in the work of the writer or, in the case of visual representation, the artist. The essays follow Turkish Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish travelers, and though there is an emphasis on the learned and sophisticated travel writer (such as Mark Twain), there is also consideration of folk-art ("Visions of the Holy Land in Romanian Synagogues"). Especially interesting, though not easily categorized, are the essays on graphic novels exploring an "(Un-)Holy Land" and on "changes in the iconic representation of Jerusalem in the 21st century." -- The essays can be downloaded or read online.      

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