REVICTO at (E)motion in Changing Worlds International Conference, Part 2

REVICTO at (E)motion in Changing Worlds International Conference, Part 2 1200 1600 REVICTO

Three members of the REVICTO team presented their papers at the (E)motion in Changing Worlds International Conference (Thessaloniki,  3-5 November 2023), at a special panel on Greek Travel and Victorian Mobilities.

Left to right: Konstantina Georganta, Efterpi Mitsi, and Chryssa Marinou


Efterpi Mitsi presented her paper entitled “Victorian travellers, Greek hotels, and Uneasy Hospitalities.”

Abstract: At the end of the nineteenth century, Athens began to acquire the image of a European capital through architectural modernisation, urban planning, and investment in tourism. Its elegant new buildings included, as Baedeker’s Greece pointed out “several excellent hotels of the first class” affording “all the conveniences which most travellers find necessary for comfort”, while the 1900 edition of Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Greece lists four first-class hotels, suggesting that the city did not only depend on its ancient monuments to attract visitors. In fact, the hotels’ competition for tourists is humorously described in an 1886 article from The Cornhill Magazine, showing the anonymous author, while still aboard in Corinth, being hassled by different hotel delegates and caught in “the web woven round him by one of these industrious spiders of modern Greece”. Victorian travellers to Greece in this period represent a new lifestyle and mobility enabled by Britain’s economic and political power, the rise of the tourist industry, and the advances in transportation. Yet, while seeking the comforts of cosmopolitan hotels, Victorians also lament the encroachment of modernity upon ancient sites, evidenced for example by Isabel Armstrong’s horror at the modern hotel rising next to ancient Olympia in 1893. At the same time, Victorians venturing to the countryside relied on the resources of their guides to find lodging, both dependent on and exposed to the (oftenchallenging) hospitality of their hosts. This paper will examine representative travel accounts of the period that reveal the emotions of Victorian guests in Athenian hotels, seen as heterotopias that offer refuge but also intensify the sense of displacement triggered by the conflict between the timelessness of the archaeological sites and the temporariness of hotel living. It will also reflect on the uneasy hospitalities in accounts of Greece split between an imperial fetishism for authenticity and a consumerist pursuit of service and comfort.

Konstantina Georganta presented her paper entitled “‘Greek Gypsies’ in Britain and Modern Greeks in the 1886 Victorian press.”

Abstract: On September 11, 1886, the Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art published “The Greek Gypsies at Liverpool”, a four-page article about the arrival of about one hundred Gypsy travellers in July of the same year. On the same date, September 11, 1886, the illustrated newspaper The Graphic started its two-part feature on the Greek capital, “whose history is part of the history of man and civilization,” under the title “Athens Illustrated”. The “Greek Gypsies” headlines create a mesh of associations in the portrayal of both people in the British Press of the time in terms of their financial and social status, description of dress and connection of it with character, elements further developed in “Athens Illustrated”. The concurrence of the two articles in September 1886 eventually leads to a reading of the two pieces as two sides of the same coin with the “darkest of all dark-skinned Europeans” with “swarthy” faces being the other side of “fair, sparkling, delicate, Athens” as was the description of the city which started the Graphic’s feature. The political context of the year creates a suitable environment for an exploration of points of convergence in their depiction with Greece viewed as a cohabitation of the familiar European world and the vaguely defined unfamiliar “Far East” of Europe.

Chryssa Marinou presented her paper entitled “Cruising with Thackeray, Twain, and Wharton: Nineteenth-Century Representations of Greece by Travelling Authors.”

Abstract: Besides being distinct literary figures, William Makepeace Thackeray, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton share their nineteenth century sea voyages to Greece and the consequent travel memoirs. Chronologically the first of the three travelling authors, Thackeray (1811-1863) published his Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo by Way of Lisbon, Athens, Constantinople, and Jerusalem in 1846. The journey was sponsored by the Peninsular & Oriental Company and Thackeray was to advertise it by way of writing his book. In fact, Notes of a Journey was to be one of the earliest registries of steam travel and the geographical trajectory followed was P&O’s “longest uninterrupted route (without overland connections), journeying from England to various ports in Spain, Greece, the Ottoman Empire, and the middle east, terminating at Cairo” (Burgess 179). About twenty years later, in 1867, Twain (1835-1910) visits the Mediterranean aboard the Quaker City. Despite writing up the trip as he goes, Twain is nevertheless obligated to pay the fare of $1250 (Budd 112-3) thus, in his brief Preface to The Innocents Abroad (1869), he terms the book “a record of a pleasure trip.” The Quaker City crosses the Atlantic, and from Gibraltar, moves along the coasts of Spain and France, reaching Paris in time for the Great Exhibition, and moving to several Italian cities. Crete, Athens, and Corinth are followed by Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Malta, and finally Spain. Twain’s highly popular and humorous travel narrative largely derides the preconceptions of American tourists in Europe. Wharton (1862-1937) is the more luxurious as well as the younger traveller, hiring the yacht Vanadis in 1888 with the intent of cruising the Mediterranean. In her journal The Vanadis Cruise (1888), Wharton documents the ship per se as well as the contact with a multifaceted Greece: places that are under the Ottoman Empire, the dominion of the Greek Kingdom, as well as the Greek community of Smyrna. Hers is the travel of the becoming author, a fashioning of her aesthetic gaze. All three texts quite obviously embody the increased mobility enabled thanks to developments in steam shipping, while the three authors stride the chasm between travel and tourism. The paper will explore the authors’ motion and e-motions with relation to their Greek destinations; despite embracing the modern spirit that heralds shipping breakthroughs, Thackeray, Twain, and Wharton seem reluctant to endorse the “foreign” Greek modernity producing affective representations of Greece that respectively draw on satire, humour, and inquisitiveness.

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Representations of Modern Greece
in Victorian Popular Culture

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