The willingness to be uncertain is key in travel writing

“Travel writers are seldom scholars. They are, by inclination if not definition, transients and dilettantes. All that can save the travel writer and redeem his or her often inexpert perceptions of foreign people and places is curiosity, a willingness to be uncertain, an essential emotional generosity, and an ability to write. Even travel writers well equipped in all of the above are inevitably attacked for missing the point, getting all manner of things wrong, and generally mucking about in questions of history and scholarship to which — when compared to experts — they have only lightly exposed themselves. This does not mean the travel writer is incapable of insight, to say nothing of entertainment, and in some cases the travel writer’s fresh-eyed unfamiliarity with a place can be made a virtue. As Lord Palmerston once said, “When I wish to be misinformed about a country, I ask the man who has lived there thirty years.””
–Tom Bissell, “Euphorias of Perrier: The Case Against Robert D. Kaplan” The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2006

Posted by | Comments Off on The willingness to be uncertain is key in travel writing  | December 18, 2006
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

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