Travel has had a mixed reputation over the years

“Travel, of course, is far from being the privilege or prerogative of modern times. It is one of the earliest and oldest of man’s activities, its history coexistive with that of the race itself, a primary impulse of the human species and a major determinant of history. Whether as migration or exploration, science or pleasure, enforced displacement or irrational wanderlust, it has figured as a condition of every race and age, era or culture. So far it is a recognized fact of human record and experience. But two other facts soon appear: that there are as many kinds of travel as there are men and occasions, and that throughout its long history travel has had not only a mixed reputation but what may be called a mixed press. In some periods its repute is high, in others surprisingly low. In some times or societies it becomes a criterion of the cultivated life, a standard of civilized action and purpose. In others — of which obvious contemporary instances suggest themselves — it falls under the reproof of patriots, nationalists, and xenophobes as a demoralizer of states or a threat to the integrity of races. If it has been praised for its civilizing value, it has also given large scope to moral self-righteousness and warning, and it has required of its chroniclers a great deal of apology and justification. Some have made a science of it, others a means of survival or rehabilitation, still others a function of politics and propaganda. The one ambition that appears always to have animated the civilized traveler has been to make an art of it; and to many people even today it is one of the few means of art or creative action they find open to them.”
–Morton Dauwen Zabel, intro to Henry James’ The Art of Travel (1958)

Posted by | Comments Off on Travel has had a mixed reputation over the years  | March 23, 2009
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

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