French Political Travel Writing in the Interwar years: Radical departures

Martyn Cornick, Martin Hurcombe, Angela Kershaw

Research output: Book/ReportBook

1 Citation (Scopus)


This book is study of travel writing produced by French authors following visits to regimes perceived in inter-war France as totalitarian in nature. In addition to a discussion of journeys to Nazi Germany and the USSR, it offers an analysis of journeys to countries whose influence over French intellectuals and their political engagement has been neglected: Fascist Italy, Nationalist Spain, and Salazar’s Portugal. Through an analysis of the travel writing produced as a result of such visits, the book aims to gauge the appeal of these forms of totalitarianism for inter-war French intellectuals from a broad political spectrum. It aims to examine not only those whose political sympathies with the extreme right or extreme left were already publicly known, but also those usually non-aligned intellectuals who occupied the ‘centre ground’ and who were nevertheless drawn to political models that offered an apparently radical alternative to that of the Third Republic in France. The book is therefore concerned with the varied and enduring appeal of these totalitarian alternatives and seeks to establish to what extent the interest and, in some cases, fascination with such regimes reflects a utopian aspiration. Utopianism is understood not in the colloquial sense, as a fantasy ungrounded in the real but, in line with Karl Mannheim, Paul Ricœur, and Ruth Levitas, as a form of non-congruence with the real that it seeks to transcend. The book is less concerned with the political and historical accuracy of the portrayal of the regimes visited, preferring to consider this type of travel writing as an expression of an active socio-political imaginary that interacts with, and intends to impact upon, the real. It therefore also considers the role such journeys played in developing anti-democratic tendencies among key intellectual figures of the period and the consequences for France during the approach of the Second World War.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Number of pages336
ISBN (Electronic)9780203782798
ISBN (Print)9780415858823, 9780367867478
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2017

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Travel Writing


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