Truth and travel writing: staging authenticity in Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heart of Borneo (1984) and Congo Journey (1996).

Cocking, Ben (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). pp. 1-19. ISSN 2049-2340. (Full text available)

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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: travel writing, truth, authenticity, Redmond O’Hanlon, postcolonialism.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4731 Journalism
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Centre for Journalism
Depositing User: Ben Cocking
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2016 21:41 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2016 08:35 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56760 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Cocking, Ben: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1247-791X
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