studies in travel writing

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Maspéro, François and Frantz, Anaïk, Roissy Express: A Journey through the Paris Suburbs. London: [1990], translated by Paul Jones (London: Verso, 1994).

Maspero's Roissy Express,a prose meditation and series of photographs, winds its way through the villages and suburbs that bank the train line from Charles de Gaulle Airport to metropolitan Paris. It details a series of connected narratives linked by the contingencies of suburban and exurban space, tracing the route from Roissy to Paris in its account of submerged, and usually blurry, quotidian lives.

The writer and photographer chose to articulate the indifferent blur of the route by spending the night at each stop, and recording their impressions of each place. This journey takes them slowly through a Parisian landscape unlike the Paris of the tourist. A series of disparate communities, histories and personal narratives unfolds through the book, and the sense is of an energising cultural complexity, often characterised by linguistic incongruity, and historical crossings. Locating the everyday experience of racism, for example, through the lives of strangers met on the journey, the book reorients its precise detailing of the vicissitudes of nazism still visible on the landscape: the journey becomes a way to trace overlapping and interimplicating social histories through the delineation of the everyday.

(Melissa Hardie, Suburban Oblique)


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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