Demaistre’s Voyage Autour de ma Chambre



Obviously very much under Sterne’s influence, the youthful Xavier de Maistre1 wrote the ultimate travelogue of the imagination, Voyage autour de ma chambre (first published in 1794). The hero of this work, a precursor of Goncharov’s Oblomov, shows the artist’s capacity to create from and within his own interior world without the stimuli of external places, people and events. The author, an army officer in Italy at the time, had been placed under house arrest for having taken part in a duel. During the forty-two days of confinement to his chambers, with only the company of a faithful domestic and his pet dog, DeMaistre amused himself with a rather daring literary experiment. Physically, the author’s “trip” is limited to the objects within his room: the bed, the armchair, the desk and the window. But spiritually, he makes important discoveries about himself and his own intellectual resources. The book, nonetheless, is not completely atypical of the travel genre: its tone is didactic and it contains an analysis of customs, principally those of the author himself.


Final Passage Intellectual Resource Everyday Reality Dualistic View Army Officer 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1973

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