Faye Hammill: literary representations of travel
Thank you for a wonderful talk, Faye. You argue persuasively for links between geographical and class mobility, and for a nationalist impulse in the travel features of these Canadian magazines. I'm wondering whether or not this pro-nationalist and pro-imperial thrust in the ads and articles for travel is complicated by other features in these magazines, and particularly by literary representations of travel. I'm thinking of the narrative possibilities suggested by your isolated example of railway disaster; does the fiction in these magazines present any cracks in the facade of national and imperial confidence?
Thank you Carey! It's an excellent question. Boringly, the answer is basically 'no'. I'm sorry if I was't clear on the railway disaster item: that's an essay about real disasters, rather than a piece of fiction. I didn't talk about fiction because it would only have been relevant to one of those magazines: La revue populaire published plenty of fiction but it was almost always from France, and not usually about travel at all - unless we count the French settings as a possible stimulus to francophone Canadians to visit France. Mayfair published no fiction. The Canadian Home Journal, however, was an important publisher of fiction. It did sometimes include stories which presented, as you nicely put it, 'cracks in the façade' of the whole fantasy of travel. Journeys going wrong, and dreams not fulfilled. These were infrequent, however. I don't remember seeing any stories that undermined national and imperial confidence, although I should add that I've certainly not read every piece of fiction in the Journal. In some of the other Canadian magazines I've studied, there are nice examples of fiction that takes apart the fantasy of travel, such as "Jack-Pots" by George Pearson in the 15 June 1925 Maclean's. This is about a couple who have been saving for years for a trip to Europe, but then feel socially inadequate on the liner crossing, and end up getting drawn into gambling away all their funds. This story is an exception, though. Most of the fiction presents travel as a sound investment!