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“The Past Is a Foreign Country”: History as Representation in the Writings of William Darlymple

David Edward Gibbons

Abstract


The work of William Dalrymple reflects a series of transformations, from straightforward travel writing, through more complex and profound encounters with the places and people of various Eastern nations, in particular India, to what most recently might best be described as narrative history. While such depth would be out of place in tourist discourse, some of it – the historical dimension in particular – is unusual even for travel writing. Despite the increasing specialization, however, Dalrymple’s approach has if anything become less elitist in nature; he has even been known to offer his services providing guest lectures on Indian history to select tour parties. His choice of history as his preferred method of representation in theory allows his chosen cultures to represent themselves. In practice, however, it tends to result in a reduced emphasis on the other, and the figure of the first-person narrator, ostensibly relegated to the background, proves to be more resilient than anticipated. Possibly the main theme of Dalrymple’s work as a whole is his own cultural development, from callow travel writer to culturally sensitive historical commentator.


Keywords


history; India; tourism; travel writing; William Dalrymple

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2015-001-gibb



 


Lingue Culture Mediazioni - Languages Cultures Mediation
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (27/11/2013 n. 380)
Online ISSN 2421-0293 - Print ISSN 2284-1881


Dipartimento di Scienze della Mediazione Linguistica e di Studi Interculturali
Università degli Studi di Milano


Editors-in-Chief: Paola Catenaccio, Giuliana Garzone
Editors:  Marina Brambilla, Luigi Bruti Liberati, Maria Vittoria Calvi, Gabriella Cartago, Lidia De Michelis, Dino Gavinelli, Marie-Christine Jullion, Alessandra Lavagnino, Chiara Molinari, Giovanni Turchetta.
Sub-Editors: Maria Matilde Benzoni, Paola Cotta Ramusino, Mario De Benedittis, Kim Grego, Giovanna Mapelli, Fabio Mollica, Bettina Marta Mottura, Mauro Giacomo Novelli, Letizia Osti, Maria Cristina Paganoni, Giuseppe Sergio, Virginia Sica, Nicoletta Vallorani.
International Advisory Board: James Archibald (Translation Studies) - Hugo de Burgh (Chinese Media Studies) - Kristen Brustad (Arabic Linguistics) - Daniel Coste (French Language) - Luciano Curreri (Italian Literature) - Claudio Di Meola (German Linguistics) - Donatella Dolcini (Hindi Studies) - Johann Drumbl (German Linguistics) - Denis Ferraris (Italian Literature) - Lawrence Grossberg (Cultural Studies) - Stephen Gundle (Film and Television Studies) - Tsuchiya Junji (Sociology) - John McLeod (Post-colonial Studies) - Estrella Montolío Durán (Spanish Language) - Silvia Morgana (Italian Linguistics) - Samir Marzouki (Translation, Cultural Relations) - Mbare Ngom (Post-Colonial Literatures) - Christiane Nord (Translation Studies) - Roberto Perin (History) - Giovanni Rovere (Italian Linguistics) - Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (Russian Studies) - Shi-Xu (Discourse and Cultural Studies) - Srikant Sarangi (Discourse analysis) - Françoise Sabban, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine (Chinese Studies) - Itala Vivan (Cultural Studies, Museum Studies)

Editor of LCM - The Series: Marie-Christine Jullion


Referee List