La literatura de viaje española del siglo XIX, una tipología



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Texas Tech University


This typology of the XIXth century peninsular travel literature offers a model for possible future studies of the travel literature of different centuries and different countries and leads to the tracking of a possible evolution of the subgenres proposed. In the light of numerous previous and recent efforts of classification by authors such as: Angela Pérez Mejía, Fernando Cristovaõ, Lily Litvak, Otmar Ette, Charles Batten and many more, and as they transcend a chronological order or an evolution according to the literary trends of the century, the subgenres are based on content, which was determined to be the best way to proceed. The findings of this study show that what determines the subgenres is, besides the examination of the content, the didactic intention of the author combined with the specific reader horizon of expectations for the particular travel book. The travel book of the “aesthetic-cultural” type includes authors such as el Duque de Rivas (Angel de Saavedra), Pedro de Alarcón, Amós de Escalante and Benito Pérez Galdós; the travel book of the “economic-social” type includes authors such as Emilia Pardo Bazán, Ramón de Mesonero Romanos, and Angel Ganivet; the travel book of the “scientific-historical” type includes authors such as Felix de Azara, Marcos Jiménez de la Espada, Manuel Almagro, and Ciro Bayo, and the travel book of the philosophical-political type includes authors such as Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, Miguel de Unamuno and Federico García Lorca. Works that belong to the “costumbrismo” movement that are classed as “artístico-literarias” have not been included in this study because of their remote relation to the main body of travel literature. The authors are famous writers of the nineteenth century well known to Spanish readers of the time. The subgenre “aesthetic-cultural” fulfills its reader’s needs for an artistic culture, with its automatic visit and description of churches, cathedrals and museums in each vii town visited. It follows the chronological order of the trip and can come under different forms: letters to the reader, journal, periodical travel account. The subgenre “economic-social” fulfills the need of the Spanish reader for information about how things are done in foreign countries at the time: Spain was behind both socially and economically and was looking for possible solutions beyond its borders. The information contained in those travel accounts is “avant-garde” and the authors are well aware of the difficulty represented by bringing this type of new material to their readers. The travel narrative of the scientific-historical type is a scholarly book, replete with new zoological and anthropological findings acquired from the exploration of the American continent by Spanish professional scientists of the XIXth century who were working with government funds. The travel account of the philosophical-political type serves as a vehicle to express the philosophical ideas and political opinions of its author. It allows the reader to communicate better with the philosopher. The poetic landscape, literary evocations of nature, and the overall beauty shared by all these texts are a pleasant common denominator. This work should be especially relevant for those engaged in the literary study of Spanish Travel Literature, especially in relation to the definition, importance and evolution of the different subgenres across the centuries (seventeenth to twenty-first).