This book is the first to engage with the full range of American travel writing about nineteenth-century Ottoman Palestine, and the first to acknowledge the influence of the late-eighteenth-century Barbary captivity narrative on nineteenth-century travel writing about the Middle East. Brian Yothers argues that American travel writing about the Holy Land forms a coherent, if greatly varied, tradition, which can only be fully understood when works by major writers such as Twain and Melville are studied alongside missionary accounts, captivity narratives, chronicles of religious pilgrimages, and travel writing in the genteel tradition. Yothers also examines works by lesser-known authors such as Bayard Taylor, John Lloyd Stephens, and Clorinda Minor, demonstrating that American travel writing is marked by a profound intertextuality with the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and with British and continental travel narratives about the Holy Land. His concluding chapter on Melville's Clarel shows how Melville's poem provides an incisive critique of the nascent imperial discourse discernible in the American texts with which it is in dialogue.
Table of Contents
Contents: The emergence of the Levant in American literature: Barbary captivity narratives, oriental romances, and the Holy Land as Protestant trope; 'The all-perfect text': the skeptical piety of Protestant pilgrims to the Holy Land; Alternative orthodoxies: Clorinda Minor, Orson Hyde, Warder Cresson, and William Henry Odenheimer; 'Such poetic illusions': the skeptical oriental romance of John Lloyd Stephens, Bayard Taylor, George William Curtis, and William Cullen Bryant; Quotidian pilgrimages: Mark Twain, J. Ross Browne, John William DeForest, and David Dorr in Palestine; 'As seen through one's tears': the 'double mystery' of place in Herman Melville's Clarel; Bibliography; Index.
'Yothers makes a significant contribution not only to our understanding of US travel writing in the region, but also to our understanding of the complicated and conflicted relationship of the United States and the Middle East. Yothers's method is to examine a wide-ranging variety of writings that include missionary journals, chronicles of religious pilgrimages, and literary travel narratives.' Studies in Travel Writing