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Exotic Norths? Representations of Northern Scandinavia in S. H. Kent's Within the Arctic Circle and Bayard Taylor's Northern Travel

Keywords: Bayard Taylor , S. H. Kent , Northern Travel , Within the Arctic Circle , exoticising exoticism , imperialist exoticism , Scandinavia , the North , discourse , modernity

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Abstract:

In this article I analyse aspects connected to exoticism in Bayard Taylor's Northern Travel (1858) and Susannah Henrietta Kent's Within the Arctic Circle (1877). Despite gender differences and different seasons in which the travellers undertake their trips, there are similarities between the texts which indicate that discourses connected to the destination to an extent structure representations and determine what is to be rendered as exotic. The close readings are focused on Kent's and Taylor's depictions of Sami life, the cold, the perceived 'backwardness' of the area, the midnight sun and the northern lights. The analyses illustrate that two forms of exoticism feature in the travelogues; an exoticising exoticism figure aspects of the landscape and the people which are benevolently viewed and not in need of improvement or change, and an imperialist exoticism structure depictions of aspects which are seen as in need of amendment. Kent and Taylor express different aims with their journeys; the former to establish the area as a 'safe' destination for travellers of both genders and all ages, the latter to test his masculinity against the harsh climate. These different aims, as well as the time period which sees Scandinavia established as a tourist destination, thus threatening what was perceived as authentic travel experiences, are also discussed in the analyses of how both travellers vacillate between different exotic constructions of the North.

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