La Croisière du Vanadis : sur les traces d'Edith Wharton

Abstract : A trace is both a material imprint and a trail or series of imprints, marking the passage of a being or an object in transit; it can therefore be understood as the material evidence of a path that has been pursued. In the particular context of this research, the term trace refers first and foremost to the record of a sea voyage. This unpublished journal, kept by Edith Wharton, gives an account of the various stages of the Mediterranean cruise she made in the yacht, the Vanadis, in the spring of 1888.This long book is of particular interest, insofar as it, not only gives a fascinating account of the response of a young nineteenth-century cultivated American to the different cultures discovered in the course of a voyage leading her from North Africa to the Greek Islands and the shores of the Adriatic, but also provides valuable insight into the early responses of an artist in the making.The term “trace” therefore refers to both these aspects: first the voyage itself, the places visited, their physical features and historical significance; secondly the traces left by the visitor who embarked on this adventure at a turning point in her life. The sentiment that the future artist is poised at the crossroads of her existence, leads the researcher – in an attempt to leave as few stones as possible unturned – on a trail leading back to her past and forward to her future. This investigation would not be complete without a survey of travel literature, as the particular genre Edith Wharton has chosen as her means of expression. All these traces unite to form a series of “signs” (in the Saussurian sense of the word), which the researcher endeavours to interpret in the hopes of understanding what is “signified” on a deeper level.
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Aurélie Dell'Olio. La Croisière du Vanadis : sur les traces d'Edith Wharton. Littératures. Université de Toulon, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014TOUL3003⟩. ⟨tel-01212461⟩

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