A kinship between travelling and writing is evident in works ranging from the fourteenth century memoir The Travels of Sir John Mandelville to Rebecca Solnit’s meditations on wandering in A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2006). We travel to discover what it is we wish to write; we write to discover where it is we wish to travel. In The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau notes that in Athens public transport is known as ‘metaphorai’: ‘to go to work or come home, one takes “a metaphor” – a bus or a train’ (Certeau 1984, p.155). He continues: ‘Stories could also take this noble name: every day they traverse and organise places; they select and link them together; they make sentences and itineraries out of them. They are spatial trajectories’ (p.155). When we write, we venture through new territories and encounter new shores, but always in the shadows of those who have gone before.
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984)
John Mandeville, The Travels of Sir John Mandelville, ed. Charles Moseley (London: Penguin, 1983)
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost (London: Canongate, 2006)