Postmodern Simultaneity Versus European History in Contemporary Travel-Writing


The XXIst-century metropolis is dominated by signs, an oppressive quantity of merchandised goods, quick changes and a distortion of traditional space and time. This paper aims to study how distance is suppressed and how simultaneity replaces history in the postmodern era through the work of Pico Iyer, Baudrillard and Umberto Eco. Space and time are supposed to offer a stable frame for one's experiences and the construction of oneself: what happens when this frame is modified? The near-religious belief in progress which characterised the first part of the modern era, until the disillusion brought by the First World War, seems to be revived in the postmodern era. Clock time is no longer relevant but varies from individual to individual located in the same place, depending on the jet-lag they are experiencing. In this, the Global Soul echoes Baudrillard's America and Eco's Travels in Hyperreality. Baudrillard described “the triumph of instantaneity over Time understood as depth” (Amérique. Paris: Descartes & Cie, 2000, p.15). Eco's description of the United States resembles Baudrillard’s insofar as he depicts “a country without a sense of history,” “without a sense of experience” (Patrick Holland, Graham Huggan. Tourists with Typewriters, Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing, p.161). Yet this study will unveil the remnants of stability and authenticity that can still be recovered through the imperial order, embodied by history through the myths of Antiquity and the old English Motherland.

Author Information
Ana Calvete, University of Helsinki, Finland

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2017
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ECAH2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon