The genre of travel literature includes outdoor literature, exploration literature, adventure literature, nature writing, and the guide book, as well as accounts of visits to foreign countries.〔J. A. Cuddon, ''The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory''. London: Penguin Books, 1999, p. 937.〕
The subgenre of travel journals, diaries and direct records of a traveler's experiences, dates back to Pausanias in the 2nd century AD and James Boswell's 1786 ''Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides''.
== History ==
Early examples of travel literature include Pausanias' ''Description of Greece'' in the 2nd century CE, and the travel journals of Ibn Jubayr (1145–1214) and Ibn Batutta (1304–1377), both of whom recorded their travels across the known world in detail. The travel genre was a fairly common genre in medieval Arabic literature.
Travel literature became popular during the Song Dynasty (960–1279) of medieval China.〔Hargett 1985, p. 67.〕 The genre was called 'travel record literature' (youji wenxue), and was often written in narrative, prose, essay and diary style.〔Hargett 1985, pp. 67–93.〕 Travel literature authors such as Fan Chengda (1126–1193) and Xu Xiake (1587–1641) incorporated a wealth of geographical and topographical information into their writing, while the 'daytrip essay' ''Record of Stone Bell Mountain'' by the noted poet and statesman Su Shi (1037–1101) presented a philosophical and moral argument as its central purpose.〔Hargett 1985, pp. 74–76.〕
One of the earliest known records of taking pleasure in travel, of travelling for the sake of travel and writing about it, is Petrarch's (1304–1374) ascent of Mount Ventoux in 1336. He states that he went to the mountaintop for the pleasure of seeing the top of the famous height. His companions who stayed at the bottom he called ''frigida incuriositas'' ("a cold lack of curiosity"). He then wrote about his climb, making allegorical comparisons between climbing the mountain and his own moral progress in life.
Michault Taillevent, a poet for the Duke of Burgundy, travelled through the Jura Mountains in 1430 and left us with his personal reflections, his horrified reaction to the sheer rock faces, and the terrifying thunderous cascades of mountain streams. Antoine de la Sale (c. 1388–c. 1462), author of ''Petit Jehan de Saintre'', climbed to the crater of a volcano in the Lipari Islands in 1407, leaving us with his impressions. "Councils of mad youth" were his stated reasons for going. In the mid-15th century, Gilles le Bouvier, in his ''Livre de la description des pays'', gave us his reason to travel and write:
:Because many people of diverse nations and countries delight and take pleasure, as I have done in times past, in seeing the world and things therein, and also because many wish to know without going there, and others wish to see, go, and travel, I have begun this little book.
In 1589, Richard Hakluyt (c. 1552–1616) published ''Voyages'', a foundational text of the travel literature genre.
In the 18th century, travel literature was commonly known as the book of travels, which mainly consisted of maritime diaries.〔Stolley 1992, p. 26.〕 In 18th century Britain, almost every famous writer worked in the travel literature form.〔Fussell 1963, p. 54.〕 Captain James Cook's diaries (1784) were the equivalent of today's best sellers.
Other later examples of travel literature include accounts of the Grand Tour. Aristocrats, clergy, and others with money and leisure time travelled Europe to learn about the art and architecture of its past. One tourism literature pioneer was Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894), with ''An Inland Voyage'' (1878), and ''Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes'' (1879) about his travels in the Cévennes, (France), is among the first popular books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities, and tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.〔''Travel with a Donkey in the Cevennes'' (1879); Re the first sleeping bag in 1876 ()〕 A very popular subgenre of travel literature started to emerge in the form of narratives of exploration, a still unexplored source for colonial and postcolonial studies.〔F. Regard, ''British Narratives of Exploration: Case Studies of the Self and Other'', London, Pickering and Chatto, 2009.〕
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