Borders and Crossings

No. 2 - Year 10 - 04/2020

Editorial

This special issue contains selected papers presented during the Borders and Crossings International and Multidisciplinary Conference on Travel Writing in Pula and on the Brijuni Islands in September 2018 (https://www.unipu.hr/borders2018). The event, organized by the Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, marked a special occasion: the 20th anniversary of the “Borders and Crossings” conference was celebrated, and the conference itself was an opportunity for all scholars interested in the issues of travel, travel writing, and tourism to meet in the unique historical environment of Pula and the Brijuni Islands National Park. The 120 papers presented at the conference by scholars and researchers from universities, institutes, research centers, and libraries from around the globe included a wide variety of topics related to transnational mobility, literature, culture, and literary translation in a historical and global perspective. ..

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Featuring

In this paper, I examine representations of Croatian identity in contemporary Croatian film through their links with the theme of travel. In particular, I look at practices of displacement as a specific element of travel writing, which “emerge as constitutive of cultural meanings rather than as their simple transfer of extension (Clifford 3; emphasis in the original). I argue that, following the emergence of physical borders after the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Croatianness may be defined through the encounters with different types of travelers within the “complex and pervasive spectrum of human experiences” (Clifford 3). Their presence highlights not only “the discovery of places but also … their creation” (Bishop 143), demonstrates that the imaginative geography of the country becomes “less a matter of physical geography than a qualitative assessment” (Bracewell and Drace-Francis 343), and turns its territory into a field for articulation of “different imaginative practices of foreignness” (Chard 9). In the paper, I explore this issue by looking at selected Croatian films of the first two decades of the 2000s and divide them roughly into films featuring cinematic representations of external border crossings and those featuring allegorical travels within the country. What they have in common is engagement with the exploration of the country’s newly created identity, its position within the wider identity of Europe, and the country’s relationship with its own past. Films representative of the first group, such as Branko Schmidt’s The Melon Route (Put Lubenica, 2006) or Ognjen Sviličić’s Armin (2007) examine imaginary transitions between the mythical East and the mythologized West by featuring various displaced characters, from former Yugoslav neighbors to illegal migrants, crossing into Croatia in search of the route to better life. Concurrently, travels within the Croatian territory, such as a search of what seems to be imagined medieval identity in Igor Bezinović’s A Brief Excursion (Kratki izlet, 2017), critically investigate mythologizing approaches to the national identity by delving into its past....

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Invisible Cities, Calvino's novel, or rather antinovel, is about very many things. It is actually one of the few literary attempts that have managed to palpably approach the realization of Mallarmé's ideal Book, into which the entire world would collapse. Consequently, it has attracted all kinds of interpretation, including sociological, urbanist, even political. Such practices have contributed to bypassing what Invisible Cities is in the first place: a linguistic artifact. Once appreciated as such, the (anti)novel starts opening up as language on language, and as literature on literature, which, according to the author of the article, is the novel's prime concern. Its self-referentiality is presented so condensedly and thoroughly (despite the modest size of the book) that the initiated reader will have made his journey through the fifty-five cities, woven together (precisely as a textus!) by the narrator's voice and the conversations between a fictional Marco Polo and an equally such Kublai Khan, with the feeling that both language and its expression closest to perfection, that is, literature, have been covered in all their crucial aspects. There are also correspondences with the various approaches and contributions of literary criticism. A secondary text the size of an article cannot illustrate them all, but making an imperfect – although representative – selection it can at least hope to succeed as an invitation to a systematic, and inspired, (re)reading of what the article signals as Calvino's most authoritative pronouncement, however invisible, on the world of his vocation....

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NOTE: Due to a possible editorial conflict of interest the author did not participate in the editing/publishing process of this issue of the journal.This paper sets out to examine a specific body of fictional narratives featuring tourists as protagonists. It is the experience of tourists that determines the plot development, dynamics and denouement of these narratives, and the present paper focuses in particular on Elizabeth Bowen's novel The Hotel (1927) and Tennessee Williams's The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950). The representation of tourists in fiction contradicts what most theories within tourism study posit, as these fictional tourists are placed outside their comfort zone and, additionally, perceived as individuals, not part of a homogeneous mass. Such placement outside a circumscribed world, as the analysis of the two novels shows, is achieved by heterotopian spatiality which the texts construct, whereby the concept of heterotopia relies on Michel Foucault's writing. The aspect of individuality is stressed through the narrative technique called free indirect discourse; spatiality and narrative combined thus set the scene for representing the experience of tourists. Protagonists in the two novels, Sydney Warren and Karen Stone, embody Dean MacCannell's and Zygmunt Bauman's views of tourists as modern pilgrims, in search of self-discovery through interaction with otherness. Using extracts from both novels, the paper shows how this otherness is constructed spatially, the role narration plays in the process, and the effect it has on tourist protagonists. The analysis results can, finally, be used to advance the academic study of the interconnection between space and narrative in literary fiction and deepen the understanding of tourists’ behavior in relation to the particular place in which they find themselves. ...

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Scholarship of travel writing has seldom paid proper attention to questions of how and why readers engage with the genre – an oversight which, as Robin Jarvis (2016) has noted, at times leads to negative generalizations about travel writing’s presumed audience. This article examines this issue, and considers ways of recovering actual reader responses – through surveys of online reviews, and qualitative interviews. The article outlines findings from a structured group discussion with six regular readers of travel writing. Particular attention is paid to the way these readers respond to the possible inclusion of fictional elements in notionally non-fictional travel books, with the discussion revealing a broad conservatism on this point, and a general rejection of fictionalisation as a travel writing practice. This finding is contrasted with ideas voiced during the author’s interviews with notable travel writing practitioners, revealing a significant tension between the production and reception of the genre....

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