Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

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

David Edward Gibbons


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.


history; India; tourism; travel writing; William Dalrymple

Full Text:



Bassnett, Susan. 1998. “When Is a Translation not a Translation?”. In Constructing Cultures: Essays on Literary Translation, edited by Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere, 25-40. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Boorstin, Daniel. (1961) 1992. “From Traveller to Tourist: The Lost Art of Travel”. In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 77-117. Reprint, New York: Vintage.

Byron, Robert. (1937) 2007. The Road to Oxiana. Reprint, London: Penguin.

Chatwin, Bruce. 1997. Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings 1969-1989, edited by Jan Borm and Matthew Graves. London: Penguin.

Cronin, Michael. 2000. Across the Lines: Travel Language Translation. Cork: Cork University Press.

Dalrymple, William. 1989. In Xanadu: A Quest. London: Collins.

Dalrymple, William. 1993. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi. London: HarperCollins.

Dalrymple, William. (1997) 1998. From the Holy Mountain. Reprint, London: Flamingo.

Dalrymple, William. 1998. The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters. London: HarperCollins.

Dalrymple, William. 2002. White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India. London: Harper Perennial.

Dalrymple, William. 2005a. “Assimilation and Transculturation in Eighteenth-Century India: A Response to Pankaj Mishra”. Common Knowledge 11 (3): 445-485.

Dalrymple, William. 2005b. “India: The War Over History”. The New York Review of Books, April 7.

Dalrymple, William. 2006a. The Last Mughal: The Eclipse of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857. London: Bloomsbury.

Dalrymple, William. 2006b. “Indian Summer for a British Family”. The Telegraph, October 7.

Dalrymple, William. 2009a. “Home Truths on Abroad”. The Guardian, September 19.

Dalrymple, William. 2009b. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. London: Bloomsbury.

Dalrymple, William. 2013a. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan. London: Bloomsbury.

Dalrymple, William. 2013b. A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan & India. [03/04/2015]. http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2013/deadly-triangle-afghanistanpakistan-india-c.

Fowler, Corinne. 2007. Chasing Tales: Travel Writing, Journalism and the History of British Ideas about Afghanistan. Amsterdam - New York: Rodopi.

Hartley, L.P. (1953) 2004. The Go-Between. Reprint, London: Penguin.

Lee, Joanne. 2012. “Alternative Urban Journeys: Italian Travel Writing and the ‘Contromano’ Series”. Studies in Travel Writing 16 (2): 203-214. doi: 10.1080/13645145.2012.682820.

Leigh Fermor, Patrick. (1977) 2004a. A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube. Reprint, London: John Murray.

Leigh Fermor, Patrick. (1986) 2004b. Between the Woods and the Water: On Foot to Constantinople. From the Middle Danube to the Iron Gates. Reprint, London: John Murray.

Leigh Fermor, Patrick. 2014. The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos, edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper. London: John Murray.

Lowney, Charles. 2009. “Authenticity and the Reconciliation of Modernity”. The Pluralist 4 (1): 33-50.

MacCannell, Dean. (1976) 1999. The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class. Reprint, Berkeley - Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Macfarlane, Robert. (2012) 2013. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. Reprint, London: Penguin.

Miller, Sam. 2009. Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity. London: Jonathan Cape.

Mishra, Pankaj. 2005. “More Trouble than it is Worth”. Common Knowledge 11 (3): 432-444.

Mishra, Pankaj. 2006. “Feel-Good History: A Reply to William Dalrymple’s Response”. Common Knowledge 12 (1): 93-95.

Sinclair, Iain. (2002) 2003. London Orbital: A Walk around the M25. Reprint, London: Penguin.

Taylor, Charles. 1992. The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.

Trilling, Lionel. 1972. Sincerity and Authenticity. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.

Theroux, Paul. (1995) 1996. The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean. Reprint, London: Penguin.

Youngs, Tim. 2005. “Interview with William Dalrymple”. Studies in Travel Writing 9 (1): 37-63.

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