Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
French and Francophone World Studies
Wendelin A. Guentner
In this dissertation I will be analyzing the verbal representations of architectural descriptions in order to highlight their visual capacity and impact on the reader. My goal is to examine how nineteenth century French authors attempt to re-create the visual, spatial and temporal effect of architectural space through verbal representation. I will do this by examining selected narratives, spanning the century, and concentrating mostly on Greece, North Africa and the Middle East. I have selected these countries and not the Western European ones as most of the abovementioned countries offered an "alien" culture, thus deepening the effect of "otherness". The obvious difference between the cultures of the lands visited and European cultures made it necessary for the authors to describe those places in a manner that facilitates the French reader's understanding and visualization of them. I will study the Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem of François-René de Chateaubriand, the Voyage en Orient of Alphonse de Lamartine, the Voyage en Orient of Gérard de Nerval, the Voyage en Orient of Gustave Flaubert, the Voyage en Egypte and Constantinople of Théophile Gautier and finally Voyages of Pierre Loti. I have selected these authors in particular as they span the nineteenth century, thus giving me the opportunity to offer a historical perspective to this dissertation.
I have chosen to lay emphasis on architectural space, because of the interest shown for architecture in travel narratives, particularly the ones I am examining. In the nineteenth century, the urbanization of Paris may have influenced the interest generated in artists and writers for architecture. Through the medium of language and its rhetorical tools, the author tries to convey his perception to the reader. The traveling authors may have been influenced by major literary movements, prior knowledge while perceiving landscape, monuments and people, but what they held before them was reality for them at that given moment. It is thus the moment of perception and all the anterior factors that influence it that become the defining one for the description that follows. The traveling authors gave their input to the rhetoric of description. They had a visible influence on this rhetoric. In this dissertation, I hope to have illustrated the many modalities of descriptive techniques that they used. The visual aesthetics of the travel narrative however, are defined by that one moment when the author lives and feels his immediate environment. The narrative that emerges from it is then, in modern terms, a virtual image gallery.
Copyright 2002 Manjiri Patkar
Patkar, Manjiri. "Virtual imagery in nineteenth century French travel narratives: perception and description of architectural space." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2002.