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Journeys from Scandinavia

Travelogues of Africa, Asia, and South America, 1840—2000

2010
Author:

Elisabeth Oxfeldt

Journeys from Scandinavia

How Scandinavians perceive and portray encounters with the non-European Other

Focusing on Danish and Norwegian travelogues, Elisabeth Oxfeldt traces the evolution of Scandinavian travel writing over two centuries. A long-overdue examination of travel literature produced by some of Denmark and Norway’s greatest writers, Journeys from Scandinavia unpacks the unstable constructions of Scandinavian cultural and national identity and, in doing so, complicates the common assumption of a homogeneous, hegemonic Scandinavia.

Elisabeth Oxfeldt’s stimulating readings of eight Scandinavian authors and their literary travelogues create both a constellation and a trajectory. Her well-chosen examples resonate richly with each other as the book progresses, and the wide-ranging theoretical frameworks, chosen to match the concerns of each writer and text, inspire appreciation for the complexity of the Scandinavian travel-writing tradition. Oxfeldt is clearly at home in the analysis of orientalist, postcolonial, and travel discourses, and is an able guide for those unfamiliar with the non-canonical Scandinavian writers in question. For any reader interested in the possibilities of the genre, this is a trip worth taking.

Mark Sandberg, University of California, Berkeley

For all of the scholarship done on postcolonial literatures, little has been applied to Scandinavian writing. Yet, beginning with the onset of tourism beyond Scandinavia in the 1840s, a compelling body of prose works documents Scandinavian attitudes toward foreign countries and further shows how these Scandinavian travelers sought to portray themselves to uncharted cultures.

Focusing on Danish and Norwegian travelogues, Elisabeth Oxfeldt traces the evolution of Scandinavian travel writing over two centuries using pivotal texts from each era, including works by Hans Christian Andersen, Knut Hamsun, and Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). Oxfeldt situates each one in its historical and geopolitical context, and her close readings delineate how each travelogue reflects Scandinavia’s ongoing confrontation between Self and the non-European cultural Other.

A long-overdue examination of travel literature produced by some of Denmark and Norway’s greatest writers, Journeys from Scandinavia unpacks the unstable constructions of Scandinavian cultural and national identity and, in doing so, complicates the common assumption of a homogeneous, hegemonic Scandinavia.

Journeys from Scandinavia

Elisabeth Oxfeldt is associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Oslo University. She is the author of Nordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, 1800–1900.

Journeys from Scandinavia

Elisabeth Oxfeldt’s stimulating readings of eight Scandinavian authors and their literary travelogues create both a constellation and a trajectory. Her well-chosen examples resonate richly with each other as the book progresses, and the wide-ranging theoretical frameworks, chosen to match the concerns of each writer and text, inspire appreciation for the complexity of the Scandinavian travel-writing tradition. Oxfeldt is clearly at home in the analysis of orientalist, postcolonial, and travel discourses, and is an able guide for those unfamiliar with the non-canonical Scandinavian writers in question. For any reader interested in the possibilities of the genre, this is a trip worth taking.

Mark Sandberg, University of California, Berkeley

Journeys from Scandinavia brings into focus less-known texts by famous Scandinavian authors and illuminates more famous texts through new lenses while it reflects in general on the genre of the travelogue in an important way. In addition, Elisabeth Oxfeldt’s analysis contributes to our understanding of Scandinavian attitudes towards the foreign countries and peoples depicted in the travelogues.

Monika Zagar, University of Minnesota

An accessible, appealing, and informative resource.

Choice

Those interested in Scandinavia will welcome any attempt to foster a wider public discussion of the region, and this book will accomplish this.

Journal of Historical Geography