115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Images of Extreme Travel in Nineteenth-Century French Illustrated Magazines

Hazel Hahn, Seattle University

The Journal des voyages et des aventures de terre et de mer led the adventure periodical market. It published original illustrated adventure fiction by popular authors set in all parts of the world alongside non-fictional accounts of exploration, travel, and adventure. In exploring the representation of the exoticized Other, this paper focuses on the tensions around the “reality effect” created by the magazine.

Proposal: 

The Journal des voyages et des aventures de terre et de mer led the adventure periodical market. It published original adventure fiction by popular authors and illustrated by respected artists, set in all parts of the world alongside non-fictional accounts of exploration, travel, and adventure as well as news related to exploration, travel, and geography. By examining adventure fiction as it was originally published in the Journal des voyages, interspersed with non-fictional articles and news, we gain new insight into the interplay of the magazine’s contents. Journal des voyages exhibited great confidence in the power of its adventure stories to communicate truth, a verifiable reality existing outside the text. These claims to truth were often extended beyond geographical descriptions to the stories themselves, which recounted the hero’s mobility in a distant, “primitive” society. The theme of an “ordinary” French hero rising to the top of the “primitive” society recurred (only hindered by the English). The fiction had fantastical plots often featuring cannibalism, but was publicized ironically with great emphasis on its “truth” thanks to “geographical” information. In the journal it was frequently difficult to tell what was fiction and what was not. Underlying these phenomena lay a reluctance to distinguish the illusion of reality from reality itself. This paper focuses on the role of the images in the journal, much of which depicted the colonized. This chapter also tests the claims of the adventure fiction by examining Voyages très extraordinaires de Saturnin Farandoul (1879-1880), a parody of Verne’s adventure fiction by Albert Robida. I argue that this comedic novel, far from exposing the vision of the world structuring adventure fiction, shared adventure fiction’s worldview marked by notions of civilizational hierarchy, serving as the ultimate, encyclopedic fantasy of French mobility throughout the world. Collectively, the illustrated stories highlight the desire and confidence of mobility, only hindered by the power of the British.