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Reading: Truth and Travel Writing: Staging Authenticity in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borne...

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Truth and Travel Writing: Staging Authenticity in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borneo (1984) and Congo Journey (1996)

Author:

Ben Cocking

University of Roehampton, GB
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Abstract

Travel writing has always had a complex and contentious relationship with the truth. It cannot offer readers the reality of the journeys its authors (allegedly) undertook since, quite simply, the reader was not there. Rather, readers must content themselves with narrative accounts of journeys where markers of authenticity stand in for an inaccessible truth. This article focuses on the manifold and often contradictory layering of forms of authenticity in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borneo (1984) and Congo Journey (1996). The exploration of this draws on MacCannell’s concept of ‘staged authenticity’
(1973, 1976). Specifically, it makes use of the concept of ‘object authenticity’ as theorised by Lau (2010). Although having been developed in the context of tourism research, the use of this approach here facilitates the examination of the manifold layering of authenticity in O’Hanlon’s work. It shows how different forms of authenticity come to the surface of his narratives cyclically through a process of being asserted and then undermined. It is also hoped that this might engender consideration of other applications for this approach in the study of travel writing.
How to Cite: Cocking, B., (2013). Truth and Travel Writing: Staging Authenticity in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borneo (1984) and Congo Journey (1996). JOMEC Journal. (4), p.None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2013.10261
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Published on 09 Nov 2013.
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