Introduction

  • Helen Piel

Abstract

Travelling is a fascinating thing to do. But what today is seen for the most part as an interruption of the daily life at home, as something done only during vacations, used to be a much more challenging endeavor, full of risks. People travelled to explore virtually unknown and uncharted land; they went to conquer, to investigate, and to bring Christianity. Letters and reports written during the journey or after one’s return were a means to share whatever one had learned, as well as to let those who stayed behind participate in one’s experiences. For us today these documents are a treasure of ideas and worldviews. One such treasure has been preserved in the Jesuit Collection of the University Library in Maastricht. Among the 265,000 volumes covering an immense variety of fields, the international orientation of the Jesuit order has given us a series of travel writings. They span a time period from as early as the sixteenth century to as late as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and are proof of the explorative nature of past travellers: both the Old World and the New World were explored widely, and since not all of the books in the Jesuit Collection were written by actual Jesuits, the different backgrounds – scientific and religious, military and commercial – add to the writings’ diversity.

References

Greenblatt, S.J. (1992). Marvelous Possessions. The Wonder of the New World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Said, E.W. (2012). Orientalism. London etc.: Penguin Books.

Thompson, C. (2011). Travel Writing. London - New York: Routledge.

Published
2014-07-01