Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Self-discovery from Byron to Raban: The long afterlife of romantic travel

Jarvis, Robin



Despite the heterogeneity of Romantic-era travel writing, the idea of Romantic travel has become all but identified with a’subjective turn’ in the late eighteenth century, and with narratives of self-realisation or self-discovery, illustrated here chiefly with reference to the work of Byron, Goethe, and de Staël. Despite the adoption in much modern travel writing of a rhetoric of belatedness and self-mocking irony, such narratives can be shown to inhere in travel works by authors as different as V. S. Naipaul, Edward Marriott, Jenny Diski, Bruce Chatwin, and Roland Barthes. A rich instance of the enduring legacy of Romantic travel is provided by the innovative work of Jonathan Raban, the most recent of whose series of American travel books, Passage to Juneau (1999), sustains a complex and healthy dialogue with the literature and culture of the Romantic period. Despite the anti-Romantic cast of its intertextual relations with George Vancouver’s 1794 survey of the Inside Passage, which provides the model for Raban’s own expedition, in many respects—not least in its exploration of the maritime culture of the Northwest Coast Indians—Raban’s book gives vigorous new life to the exemplary Romantic trope of self-discovery. © 2005 The White Horse Press.


Jarvis, R. (2005). Self-discovery from Byron to Raban: The long afterlife of romantic travel. Studies in Travel Writing, 9(2), 185-204.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2005
Journal Studies in Travel Writing
Print ISSN 1364-5145
Electronic ISSN 1755-7550
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 2
Pages 185-204
Keywords Byron, Raban, romantic travel, romanticism
Public URL
Publisher URL