He came, He saw and He observed – An Analysis of Reis door Noord Amerika by Pehr Kalm


  • Julianne Lindner




According to Carl Thompson, who teaches on English literature and Travel Culture, travel accounts are a quite popular genre these days. Just think about the television series by Michael Palin and Paul Theroux. Not only contemporary writings (or programmes) are in the centre of attention, but also the ones from the past. It creates curiosity and an illusion that there are still places in the world that are not yet discovered. Also the academic world pays growing attention to travel writings. The main aims for that research is to better understand the colonial and postcolonial times. The accounts show the activities of the travellers and the kind of ideas that were incentives for their journeys. Already at the beginning of a travel the traveller encounters “otherness” and difference from his own environment. In most writings a distinction between “us & them” can be found. This happens often in the form of stereotypes. As a result the genre of travel accounts has been seen as a morally dubious form of literature (Thompson, 2011, p. 1-9). The quotation above stems from a travel account, Reis door Noord Amerika, written by the Swedish scientist Pehr Kalm. In his journey to North America he steps into a new world and there encounters a totally new world. When he arrives back in Sweden he writes down his travel into three volumes. This paper will discuss his journey, and his depiction of the others and of the New World. The main question of this paper will be: “To what extent does the background of Pieter/Pehr Kalm influence his depiction of the Native Americans and the European Americans in his book Reis door Noord Amerika?” This paper will firstly introduce the author Pehr Kalm before it continues with the travel itself. Secondly the translation history of the book is briefly touched upon. After this the paper will look at his depiction of “the others,” both Native Americans and Europeans. The travel account that is being discussed is Reis door Noord Amerika, which is an Dutch translation of the original Swedish text ‘En Resa til Norra America’ written by Pehr Kalm, sometimes known as Pieter Kalm.


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