SUBJECT:Comparative literatureASSIGNMENTNO: 2TOPIC:Cambridge companion to travel writingSUBMITTED TO:Rubia AkramSUBMITTED BY:Shamsa NoreenBushra aftabSonai sanaHaseema zafarSana safeerMobeen jamshaidDATE: 07/05/2013The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing offers a comprehensive introduction to travelwriting in English between 1500 and the present. British came in India for the purpose of tradeso a number of accounts about India were written. In all these accounts, European tradition of
writing was used and India was criticized in different ways. Calcutta city became a horrible cityof dreadful night from the glamorous city of palaces. Travelers depict the people of Calcutta asfilthy and diseased but they do not discuss its facts.This chapter starts with the question how to write about India? That question was raisedin The East India Sketch Book by Elizabeth Bruce Elton Smith. Her writing itemizes tropes,genres like the land of Arabian nights exoticism. Her narrator lacks such kind of description likebreadth, length and height of mountains, palaces and pagodas and travel accounts. She justifiesher choice of form and dramatizes her sense of belatedness by saying that readers can easilylearn such information from many Travels Through Hindustan so her writing does not followthat description. Early nineteen century writers use convention in their writings thatrepresentation of any country like India was already fixed. They use different kinds of genres andland description to present that fixed idea of a nation or a country.By the 1830s, India has been seen through British lens for two centuries. The foundationof East India Company in 1600 and trade mission to the Mughal gave rise to a number ofaccounts by merchants and diplomats. Until the mid of nineteen century, European traditionwriting was used to write different accounts about India. Accounts by travels of othernationalities was also translated and also reissued like Jean-Beptise Tavernier‟s Six Voyages.European got most of information about India from missionaries‟ letters. These accountsestablished Indian travel writing. They described it as unchanged world where customs ofancient still persisted there like the rite of sati. By the mid eighteen century, more identifiableBritish tradition writing was introduced. By the second half of eighteen century, after gettingcontrol over land avenues and administer civil justice, the East India Company has expanded itsterritory control.Travel writing also played a part in moving from trading to ruling power and itsattendant auxiliaries. Text like Jemimah Kinderley‟s criticized and pointed out many draw backslike Indian military incompetence and deficiencies of Mughal government in India. With thedefeat of Tipu Sultan, anxieties started to emerge with the emergence of British supremacy.James Mill has written History of British India in which he attributed debased site of India topolitical and religious tyranny. So travel writers wrote about new conquering armies and theyalso documented people, customs, flora and fauna. After Gurka‟s war, Himalayan travel
narrative appeared. Travel texts by women also published in this era. Writers adopted techniquesof picturesque to represent India like Fanny Parkas did.In 1857 the revolt of Bengal army creates a great disaster among the Indians. There weredifferent political powers behind the whole revolt that were leading them. Every were involve indifferent dilemmas and want to take vengeance from others. At that time different male andfemale writers wrote on the state of affairs that prevailed in India as martyrdom according totheir own perspectives. During these circumstances Mughal reign and East India company metwith their death and India came under the rule of British Empire. Now there was the directcontrol in the hands of British on Indians. They introduce their own disciplines. They introduce anew discipline of anthropology that link with the travel writing. Their main purpose behind thisdiscipline was just to make the minds of people to investigate the cultures of others is a goodway of study them.There were different books on anthropology written by Watson and Kaye‟s. One ofwhich is People of India .Their writings explain the realities of the lives of different casts andtribes of Indian people. Their writings show that there were criminals among Indian masses butBritish wanted trust worthy among Indians. This issue has been explained in the writings ofBholanath Chandra‟s Travels of a Hinduoo to various parts of upper India. Travel writings werealso described through maps. Through maps travel writers explained the dominance as well asthe past and present of those countries and travel texts about India focus attention on Indianhistory and momentum. As well as popular tourists has given the depiction of masterpiece ofMughals architecture that is Taj Mahal. J.R.Ackerleys also wrote on the conditions of Indianpeople in Hindoo Holiday. Instead of focusing on the customs or castes his text focus on whatwas the attitude of British towards Indians and Indians towards British.EM Foster was friend ofAckerley who also explained the policies implement by British on Indians in his writings.Writers who wrote after 1947 about india,the country demands for the identity of suchwriters. It shows the politics that when a person is not a native of a country then how just throughtravel he can explain the culture or the traditions of that country. The same case is with Trinidadborn a British resident V.S.Naipaul wrote An Area of Darkness that was his first impressionabout his travel writing of subcontinent in which he depicts the picture as explained to him by hisgrandfather. He depicts the picture of India same explained by his grandfather as grubby and
defected. His second book was also about India A Wounded Civilization in which he presents thepicture of emergency that was declared by Indra Gandhi. He explains the condition of that timewhen the people who revolt against government were in prison and when rights were not givento common people. Although as a travel writer he explains the whole picture according to hisown point of view. Although his third book A Million Mutinies Now shows the picture of thetime when India realize its identity and the people become aware of their self respects. Peoplebecome conscious even they come to know how politics is controlling the lives of Indians.Although in all these writings by Naipaul he wrote from subjective perspective and hiswritings are the evidence that all the travel writers wrote according to their own feelings andthoughts. They show the little reality or as they want. Eric Newby‟s Slowly Down the Gangesand different other writings are based upon his travelling. Although in travelling writers depictsthe realities of people of different countries and present them according to their own point ofview.Former imperial capital, Calcutta, officially known as Kolkata has long attracted with themost contradictory epithets. City became a horrible “city of Dreadful Night” from the glamorous“City of Palaces”. Situated on the banks of river, Hugli, and grew from a cluster of villages into amajor port, which monopolized the East India Company‟s Trade and dominated AsianCommerce. The city was divided on racial differences between the black, town of narrow streetsand mud huts, and the White, town of neo-classical huge buildings and broad spaces for walking.The city developed a distinct and lively culture of European and Bengali.The interdependence of British and Indians grew mutual attraction and distrust. Earlycollaboration of Bengali with the colonial system was succeeded by growing political resistance,economic discontent and by following the move of the imperial capital to Delhi in 1911. Calcuttabecame a symbol to travel writers of British, and while celebrating the city‟s grandeur andwealth they also describe the anxieties of colonizer, fear of the people and disease.The 1940‟s brought starvation, communal riots and waves of refugees to Calcutta. In1971, the city‟s population was once again expanding by the war in East Pakistan. For manywriters, Calcutta, in spite of its intellectual and cultural life, was the most horrible and despairingcity in the world. S.N.Mukherjee, a historian, traced a shift in representation of Calcutta from the
city of palaces to the city of dreadful night. Mukherjee argues that, Calcutta‟s glamorous imageof Palladian grandeur is succeeded by one of the chaos, disease and death around the 1850‟s. Thechange is not related to any urban condition, but to the man‟s development of popular andnational agitation in 1860‟s.Mukherjee fails to known about the lingering memory of Black Hole of 1756 and manyanxieties of colonial rule. Danger of cross-cultural proximity and dependence generated by theinequalities British Govt. Travelers were charmed and impressed by the first view of Calcutta.The scene of arrival was replayed in 18thand early 19thcentury through different travel textsObelisk raised in 1760 by Zephaniah. Holwell narrates the events in which Nawab ofBengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah attacked on the British trading base of Calcutta in June 1756. Manywriters and historians told the same history of Calcutta as given by Holwell in their writings.The myth of the Empire that was told in that time still it is questioned in twentieth century.Holwell narrates that at the time of the fall of Calcutta 145 prisoners were captivated by Nawab‟sarmy including the Holwell himself. All of these prisoners were imprisoned in the black hole forthe whole night. In the next day just 23 prisoners were remained alive while others were deadbecause they were unable to survive in that suffocated area.After some time , British took the revenge of all their sufferings from the Nawab‟ army inthe battle of palasi in 1757. Nawab‟s army was defeated by the Britishers and Siraj-ud-Dullahhimself died in that battle. Battle of Palasi is taken as the starting point of the British rule overthe people of India. All the institutions and industries of India were occupied by the Britishpeople and they were using them according to their own purpose. The myth of Black hole thusfunctioned as a starting point of British rule but it is troubling in the sense that in all the writingsof the historians British were depicted as helpless, in pain at the time of Emperor.When Calcutta city was completely occupied by the British the rebuild the Fort Williamin 1778. This fort shows the power of British on the Indians as it was dominant in the whole city.After the completion of Fort William different writers start writing about the appearance of theFort not about its description. By using East India Company as a tool ,British started controllingthe minds of Indians. Adam Smith, one of the critics himself talk against the policy of East IndiaCompany that they used their power in negative and unholy way just for their own purpose to
maintain their rule. They used the expenses of common masses for the establishment ofGovernment house but that Government house was out of common people‟s approach.Many writers wrote about the description of Government house according to their ownperspective. As James Baillie Fraser writing was influenced by Thomas and William Danielwritings. He described the picture of Government house by using the word shadowed foregroundsphinxes and lion. According to him it was a great architectural work of British empires.Another writer Emma Roberts also gives the description of this palace by saying that it was justlike a prison as she says that the entrance from the basement towards the inside was just like asyou are moving to the prison. In this palace there were different tools that were used fortyrannical purposes.Peter Stall brass and Allon White say that bourgeois subject continuously defined andredefined itself by excluding itself from what they refer as “low, dirty, repulsive, noisy,containment”. The travel writer Geoffrey Moor house, and the French writer of popular historiesand „epics‟, Dominique Lapierrie, return obsessively to the sewers, filth, and disease of Calcutta.Lapierre‟s book The City of Joy was based on three years‟ research in Calcutta followsthe adventures of a fictitious French Priest who discovers true nobility in the depths of poverty.In his book, he figures the people of Calcutta primarily as the object of European charity. Despiteof opposition from the Government of West Bengal and the Calcutta press which objected to therepresentation of the city, The City of Joy was also filmed in Calcutta by Roland Joffe and bothof its versions were central to Western construction of the city as „the site of urban deprivation‟.Calcutta came under the epitomize „Third World‟ because of history of post-colonialCalcutta when it was facing violence, displacement and settlement of newly independent nationse.g. in 1971, birth of Bangladesh caused massive increase in Calcutta‟s population which isdescribed as an immense unofficial slum city alongside the official city, of old WhiteTown/Black Town division.The crowds of Calcutta became a standard travel-writing topic. Moorhouse devotes anentire chapter of his book Calcutta (1971) to „People, People‟. One following line shows thathow he has depicted the people of Calcutta in his book: “who are lying like dead things on the
pavements, who are drenching themselves with muddy water in the gutters, and who are sometimes just standing still as though wondering what to do.” (Page 94-95).Travelers say that they did not see there European notions of „public‟ and „private‟ because ofvery visible bodies on the streets: sleeping, washing, excreting and, indeed, the confusionextends even to the categories „living‟ and „dead‟, „human‟ and „non-human‟. Such kind ofwords evokes menace, an echo of the riots and communal killings of 1946-7.Calcutta are endlessly, repeated challenged and revised. The city has been haunted by the fear ofracial fear for centuries. The fear of black hole was somehow fuse by the fear of black town andthe threat of the cit of dreadful night. Calcutta‟s paradoxical status reminds us the intimaterelation between travel text and travel industry.In short travel writing was adopted as a discipline in order to know the specialties of differentcountries.travel writers made their writings beautiful by the fake descriptions. We can trace biasattitude of travel writers in their writings. Although travel writing itself is and surely it was agood discipline but unfortunately people had used it in negative way.