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English Literature

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It combines a scientific temperament with a knowledge and analysis of human society that seeks to familiarize its readers not only with the customs of another culture but also with their beliefs and modes of living. The texts that this paper seeks to analyse not only belong to the genre of travel literature, but they also are fictional accounts. This complicates any analysis of these books. They describe not only characters who move from one point in life to another, but also a change in spatial and temporal landscapes. This paper seeks to analyse the interdisciplinary nature of travel literature through an analysis of four texts of this genre. The paper shall be structured in a way as to include the overlapping of different disciplines in different paragraphs. Pilgrim’s Progress can be included in the study of literature as well as in other fields like religion and history. The religious aspects of the work are obvious- an exhortation by the Baptist preacher John Bunyan to Christians to lead a life of virtue and Christian piety. According to Kathleen M. Swaim, the movement of the protagonist through the vagaries of life can also be considered to be a metaphor for the Puritan goal of a new world where Christian faith would be followed in a manner that was closer to the Puritan ideal than it was in Britain (Swaim, 161). The work gives us an idea of the situation in England after the restoration of monarchy in 1660, with the puritans experiencing a sense of loss with the arrival of French manners into the English court. Pilgrim’s Progress, in its attempt to incorporate a number of these concerns, consciously or unconsciously, ends up losing the unity of structure that characterises other works of literature that has attained the status that Bunyan’s work has achieved. Like many other works of travel literature, Bunyan’s work does so as a result of the vested interests of the author. The use of history can also be found in Henry Fielding’s novel, Joseph Andrews, in its delineation of the history of its lead character. It offers a challenge to the set pattern of identity that existed in England at the time it was published. It talks of the development of an individual who is very different from the other heroic characters that used to appear in novels during the eighteenth century. Fielding’s character is one of the first lower class protagonists in literature and also possesses, as a result, the flaws of such a representation. The flaws of the lead character result in the flaws of the novel, which lacks a unity of plot. This is also a result of the break that the novel-form effects from earlier forms of literature that believed in the unity of plot and structure, which was a feature of those works that followed the rules that Aristotle set down in The Poetics (Aristotle). The sanctity of these rules had faded by the time Fielding was writing his novel, but were still prevalent in other modes of literature. Fielding’s work lacks the unity of plot that most other pioneering works have as a feature. A change in the identity that one experiences can be seen in the remark that Robinson Crusoe makes when he reaches his homeland. When I came to England, I was as perfect a Stranger to all the World as if I had never been known there. (Defoe 215) Daniel Defoe’s work is one that encompasses the study of history apart from being one of the most important works in the history of English