Traversing Borders and Ideologies: British Travel Writers on Landscape and Time in Interwar Italy

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This thesis examines the representation of Italy by a few British travel writers during the interwar period, and explores whether they included their views on the fascist regime in their writings. The writers were chosen based on previous research by Paul Fussell and Bernard Schweizer, who analysed British travel writing between the wars. This thesis focuses on two main themes: landscape and time. The first chapter analyses how the writers engage with the Italian landscape. Drawing on W.J.T. Mitchell's Landscape and Power and Liz Wells' Land Matters, the writers' descriptions revolve around the concept of "il bel paese" or "the beautiful country." They use gendered language and metaphors associated with femininity and power relations. Additionally, they employ ekphrasis, referring to visual art to describe the landscape. The second chapter explores the theme of time, influenced by Charlotte Echtner and Pushkala Prasad's concept of the "Myth of the Unchanged." The writers appreciate the lack of modernity in Italy, and they portray Italians as living in the past, emphasising the myth of the ‘Eternal City.’ However, they express discontent with the encroaching modernisation and mass tourism. D.H. Lawrence is the only writer who subtly criticises Mussolini's use of Roman history for political purposes. Overall, while the writers celebrate Italy's beauty and historical significance, they predominantly stay within the confines of the tourist gaze, focusing on the landscape and a nostalgic vision of the country, largely ignoring the fascist regime.
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