Good travel writing explores complexities in faraway cultures

“Just look what gets written about Afghanistan. In an age when journalism is becoming more and more etiolated, when articles are becoming shorter and shorter, usually lacking all historical context, travel writing is one of the few venues to write with some complexity about an alien culture. An Obama speech, a foreign policy paper or a counter-insurgency briefing minimizes differences, and the same phrases like ‘failed states’ are used to link countries which are actually very different, such as Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan. What kills so many briefing documents and newspaper reports, apart from their tendency to exaggerate fears and aggrandize ambitions, is their aspiration towards imperial omniscience, and their impatience with everything that is intractable or mysterious. Travel writing provides a space for all these things.”
–Rory Stewart, quoted in the intro to The Best Travel Writing 2010

Posted by | Comments (1)  | July 28, 2011
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

One Response to “Good travel writing explores complexities in faraway cultures”

  1. Roger Says:

    I read this very interesting, if lengthy, essay and hope that the travel narative will survive. It is my favorite form of literature. I can think of so many ways travel writing has enriched my life, given me the enthusiasm to learn about the world, and to attempt to tackle my ignorance and misunderstanding.