Travel report

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Title vignette of the trips in Central Africa - from Mungo Park to Dr. Barth et al. Dr. Bird (1859)

A travel report or travel description is the (literary) representation of a traveler's observations and experiences . Such descriptions vary greatly in content and value, depending on the purpose of the particular trip . They are often richly illustrated.


The term “travel literature” or “travel report” is defined in research as a generic term (Brunner / Moritz 1997) or as a collective term (Best 1976) for depictions of “actual or fictional trips” (Brunner / Moritz 1997). According to Otto F. Best (1976), these are literary works that are “dedicated to the subject of travel”. Gero von Wilpert understands travel literature as "all of the material that reports on actual or fictitious trips".

Travel literature includes travel guides , scientific travelogues and artistic or literary travelogues as subgroups (Best 1976 & Brunner / Moritz 1997). This classification is not without controversy in research and is usually used for relief and orientation.

History and Development

The oldest travel reports are those of Skylax from Koryanda and Pytheas from Massilia . Both authors have described their own journeys, Skylax described his own under the title Periplus , a term that was subsequently often used for similar travel works. The history books of Herodotus , which contain a description of his travels, can also be viewed as a travelogue. On the other hand, there is no actual travel description among the writings of the Romans. The Roman Itineraria were only travel routes or first attempts at literary cartography.

The travel literature of antiquity was meager, and only a few works of this kind have survived from the early Middle Ages . B. the reports on the expeditions of the Vikings to the Faroe Islands , Iceland , Greenland and Vinland (today's North America ) and the expeditions of Ottar and Wulfstan undertaken on the orders of King Alfred . On the other hand, the Jewish and Arab literature of the Middle Ages has a whole series of travel works, such as that of the Arabs Ibn Battuta , Ibn Fadlan , al-Biruni , Ibn Jubair , the Jews Benjamin of Tudela , Meshullam da Volterra and others. They are important sources for the knowledge of the conditions in these countries at the time.

For the knowledge of East Asia , the journeys of Buddhist priests, such as B. Faxian and especially Xuanzang , of importance. Central Asia became better known through the delegation from the Pope to Genghis Khan in 1246 , which was led by Johannes de Plano Carpini . When trade was promoted by the Mongols and an orderly overland traffic to Beijing was established, the Florentine salesman Francesco Balducci Pegolotti was able to report on the road followed here in 1376. The later Middle Ages provided numerous reports about the Holy Land , which has been much visited since the times of the Crusades , such as Borchard, John Mandeville , Felix Fabri , Dietrich von Schachten and others, some of which were collected in Feyerabend's Reyssbuch dess Heyligen Landes (Frankfurt 1584). Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the commercial spirit of the Venetians prompted them to write travel books, for example that of the Venetian Marco Polo (" Il Milione "), Odorich von Portenau and the Zeno brothers .

Since the invention of the art of printing , travel literature soon grew en masse, after the discovery of America and the expeditions of the Portuguese to the Indian Ocean , combined with the resurgence of scientific endeavors, had opened up new and vast areas for research. As early as the 16th century, collections of travel works such as those by Johannes Huttich and Simon Grynaeus (1532), Giovan Battista Ramusio (1550 ff.) And Richard Hakluyt (1598 ff.) Were created .

In the middle of the 17th century the travelogues received new nourishment from the boom in trade, especially of the English . After them, Germans, French, North Americans, Dutch and Russians vied for second place in scientific travel literature. In 1728/29 Montesquieu made a journey of 19 months through the German lands, through Austria and Italy; In addition to many scenes from everyday life, he was particularly impressed by the conversations with statesmen about building an empire, in which he saw an early form of federalism that he thought was worth emulating. The Germans like Montesquieu. They are "good people", especially since after an initial reserve they become extremely trusting when you get to know them better. In a way they resembled elephants : “At first glance they look rough and wild,” but “as soon as you have petted them and flattered them, they become gentle. Then all you have to do is put your hand on their trunk and they willingly let you climb on their back. ”The source was published in French in 1894 and can be read online in the University of Ottawa copy . A German translation was published in 2015.

David Hume's 1748 journey through Germany (the Rhine Valley), Austria, and Italy, with accurate and sharp-tongued observations of people, society, and the economy, is an example of 18th century travel literature. These are letters to his brother John for publication. Hume was on a diplomatic mission and had plenty of time to observe. His writing first appeared in German in 2011.

At the end of the 19th century, travel reports from scientifically educated travelers were available for almost all parts of the world in the languages ​​of almost all "civilized" peoples. Some travelogues achieved "world literary importance and the highest source rank at the same time". The reports by non-German researchers, which were written in foreign languages, were made available to the German public in translations. Georg Forster and Alexander von Humboldt occupy a special place among the Germans whose travel reports were particularly distinguished ; The works of Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied , Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius , Eduard Friedrich Poeppig , Robert Schomburgk , Johann Jakob von Tschudi , Hermann Burmeister , Bernhard Philippi , Carl Ferdinand Appun were important for the knowledge of America , Johann Wilhelm Reiss , Moritz Alphons Stübel , Alexander von Frantzius , Paul Güßfeldt , Karl von den Steinen , for Africa the reports by Hornemann, Barth , Roscher , Rüppell , Russegger , Heuglin , Rohlfs , Nachtigal , Schweinfurth , von der Betten , Junker , Lenz, Hildebrandt , Mohr , Falkenstein , Pechuel-Loesche , Flegel, Pogge , Buchner , Holub , Buchholz, Mechow, Wißmann, Hahn, Mauch, Schnitzer, Zöller, especially for Egypt Lepsius and Klunzinger , for China the five-volume work by Richthofens , which was based on trips in the years 1862–1872 to the inner provinces, which at that time hardly a European had seen, Kreitner, for those of India and High Asia d he reports the Brothers Schlagintweit , Leitner and Stoliczkas for Indochina Bastian, for the Indian archipelago Junghuhn v, Semper and Jagor, in the Russian service. Baer, ​​Schrenk, Middendorf u. a. for northern and eastern Asia , Bernhard Kellermann for Japan , Abich and Radde for the Caucasus countries , for Australia Leichhardt and F. v. Müller, for New Zealand Ernst Dieffenbach , Hochstetter and Haast , for Oceania the Germans Kotzebue, who are in Russian service with Chamisso , Krusenstern , Lütke , and also Meyer , Finsch , Seemann , Gräffe , Bastian , for the northern polar countries Payer and Weyprecht .

In addition to the scientific travel literature, with the improvement of the means of transport towards the end of the 19th century, another developed which is oriented towards the more well-known countries of the world and preferably deals with the beauties of nature, the social and political conditions or the personal experiences, considerations and feelings of the Places travelers in the foreground and is therefore more or less belletristic in nature. The following German authors should be mentioned in this area: Kohl , Wagner, Gerstäcker , Fallmerayer , Pfeiffer , von Thümmel , Stahl , von Hügel , Pückler-Muskau , Heinrich Heine , Seume , Venedey, Mügge, Ludwig Karl Schmarda , von Scherzer , von Maltzan , Vambéry , Willkomm , Möllhausen , Rasch (1825–1878), Gregorovius , von Löher , Rodenberg , Ziegler , Faucher , von Hübner , H. Meyer, Passarge and others. a.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, among others, Wolfgang Büscher , Kasimir Edschmid , Richard Katz , Hape Kerkeling , Christian Kracht , Helge Timmerberg and Stephan Thiemonds entered this semi-literary terrain.

Fictional travelogues represent a borderline case of travelogues: the so-called Robinsonades and the scientifically influenced (but nevertheless fantastic) travelogues such as those by Jules Verne .

to form

All the different forms of travel literature have one thing in common: they all report on foreign countries and peoples, arouse and satisfy the curiosity of those who stayed at home with their reports of the extraordinary events and dangerous ventures on their way, they want to entertain but also teach and belong one of the oldest and most popular forms of literature that can be found in all cultures in different ways. The success of a travelogue is due on the one hand to the spirit, style and observation of the author, and on the other to the spirit of his time. Since the travel literature offers opportunities for travelers as well as travel literature readers to experience otherness and u. u. of the self, national literary studies, comparative literature and foreignness research, etc. a. intensively with travel literature and examine it with regard to images of countries and prejudices, but also especially in the last ten years with regard to ways of perceiving personal and foreign experience.

The scientific travelogue

The scientific travelogue is the result of a research trip such as that of Alexander von Humboldt or Georg Forster's trip around the world ( 1777 ). It is usually written in the autobiographical form of diaries, travel letters or travel sketches. In the German-speaking area, the Baroque writer Adam Olearius (alias Adam Ölschläger) (* Aschersleben 1599; † Gottorf, Schleswig 1671) founded the description of his travels to Russia (1633 to 1635) and Persia (1635 to 1639), published in Schleswig in 1647 under the title "Often coveted description of the new oriental trip ...", a mixture of travel report and learned treatise, the earliest scientific travel description.

The geographical writings of antiquity can be regarded as forerunners. (Brunner / Moritz 1997).

The so-called travel chronicles are to be distinguished from scientific travelogues that go back to an eyewitness account of an individual traveler. Most of them were created through the summary and subsequent compilation of published or unpublished travelogues. The important early chroniclers include B. Richard Hakluyt and Theodor de Bry .

The literary travelogue

The artistic travelogues include the literary travelogue, the literary travelogue, the travel narrative, and the travel novel . The main characteristic of the so-called artistic travelogue in contrast to the factually oriented one consists primarily in its literary, essayistic reshaping of actual or fictional travel experiences. Sometimes they appear as mixed forms, namely in connection with other epic forms (adventure novel, Bildungsroman, Staatsroman, autobiography and lie poetry).

travel Guide

Travel guides or travel manuals, such as Baedeker , pilgrimage guides , pilgrimage guides and travel books, provide objective travelers with useful information about the travel routes and the travel destination, etc. a. to hand. The world's largest travel fair, the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin , also includes a small book fair for tourism publishers (travel guides, maps).

Travel blogs

In recent years, travel blogs have become more and more popular. A travel blog is a form of weblog on which travel reports are presented, mostly in a subjective form.

See also

Web links

Commons : Travel literature  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Travel  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: travelogue  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Travel literature  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Amin, Abbas: Egyptomania and Orientalism: Egypt in German travel literature (1175–1663). With a chronological index of the travel reports (383-1845) . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2013 (= Studies on German Literature, Vol. 202) e- ISBN 978-3-11-029923-6 ISBN 978-3-11-029893-2 .
  • The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge Companions to Literature) [Paperback], ed. by Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-78652-5
  • Ulrike Ilg (Ed.): Text and image in travelogues of the 16th century. Western evidence of America and the Ottoman Empire . Venice: Marsilio / Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag 2008 (Art History Institute in Florence, Max Planck Institute. Studi e Ricerche, 3). ISBN 3-422-06871-6
  • Gerhard Fouquet (ed.); Tobias Delfs (Red.), Thomas E. Henopp (Red.): The journey of an anonymous low nobility to the Holy Land in 1494 , Frankfurt / M. u. a. 2007, (Kieler Werkstücke, Series E: Contributions to Social and Economic History, 5). ISBN 978-3-631-56777-7
  • Guntram Zürn: Travel descriptions of Italy and France in the morning paper for educated classes (1830-1850) . Frankfurt: Peter Lang 2007 ( European University Theses - Series XVIII 119). ISBN 3-631-57181-X
  • Willy Puchner , Illustrated Wanderlust. From Traveling and Coming Home , 2006, ISBN 3-89405-389-5
  • Berlin, Paris, Moscow. Travel literature and the metropolises. Eds. Walter Fähnders, Inka Fischer, Hendrik Weber, Nils Plath. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2005 (Travel Texts Metropolises. Vol. 1) ISBN 3-89528-487-4
  • Ulla Biernat: “I'm not the first stranger here.” On German travel literature after 1945 . Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2004 (Epistemata: Series Literary Studies; 500). ISBN 3-8260-2761-2
  • Frauke Geyken: Gentlemen on the move: the British image of Germany in the 18th century . Frankfurt / M. u. a .: Campus 2002, ISBN 3-593-37130-8
  • Anne Fuchs / Theo Harden (eds.): Journeys in discourse. Models of the literary foreign experience from pilgrims' reports to postmodernism. Conference files of the international symposium on travel literature University College Dublin from 10.-12. March 1994 . Heidelberg: Carl Winter 1995 (Neue Bremer Contributions, Vol. 8) [ Personal register , ibid., Pp. 681-686]. ISBN 3-8253-0303-9
  • Xenia von Ertzdorff / Dieter Neukirch (eds.): Travel and travel literature in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period . Amsterdam / Atlanta 1992. (Chloe. Supplements to Daphnis, 13). ISBN 90-5183-325-3
  • Peter J. Brenner (Ed.): The travel report. The development of a genre in German literature . Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1989 (suhrkamp taschenbuch materials 2097) [Peter J. Brenner: selection bibliography , ibid., Pp. 508-538; Name register , ibid., Pp. 539-557; Location register , ibid., Pp. 558-567]. ISBN 3-518-38597-6
  • Conrad Wiedemann (Ed.): Rome - Paris - London. Experience and self-awareness of German writers and artists in foreign metropolises. A symposium . Stuttgart: Metzler 1988 (German Symposia. Reports, Vol. VIII) [Kerstin Göttlicher: Personenregister , ibid., Pp. 697–719]. ISBN 3-476-00610-7
  • Wolfgang Griep / Hans-Wolf Jäger (eds.): Travel and social reality at the end of the 18th century . Heidelberg: Carl Winter 1983 (Neue Bremer Contributions, Vol. 1) [register of persons , ibid., Pp. 395-407]. ISBN 3-533-03470-4
  • Julia Chatzipanagioti-Sangmeister: Greece, Cyprus, Balkans and Levant . An Annotated Bibliography of 18th Century Travel Literature. 2 vols. Eutin: Lumpeter & Lasel, 2006. ISBN 3-9810674-2-8
  • Boris Ilich Krasnobaev / Gert Robel / Herbert Zeman (eds.): Travels and travelogues in the 18th and 19th centuries as sources of cultural relations research , Berlin: Camen 1980. (Studies on the history of cultural relations in Central and Eastern Europe, 6).
  • Johannes Görbert: The text of the world. Research trips as literature with Georg Forster, Alexander von Humboldt and Adelbert von Chamisso , Berlin / Boston 2014. ISBN 978-3-11-037411-7 .
  • Andrea Voß: Telling Travel. Narrative rhetoric, intertextuality and functional functions of the noble educational travel report in the early modern period. Heidelberg: Winter 2016. ISBN 978-3-8253-6591-2 .
  • Phillip Landgrebe: The travel report Dietrich von Schachten . In: Journal for Hessian History and Regional Studies. Volume 123, 2018, pp. 177-198.

Regional literature

  • Wolfgang Wüst : Swabia seen through Italian eyes. Travel impressions between the late Middle Ages and the Enlightenment . In: Wolfgang Wüst, Rainhard Riepertinger, Peter Fassl (eds.): Swabia and Italy. Two European cultural landscapes between antiquity and modernity (Journal of the Historisches Verein für Schwaben, 102) Augsburg 2010, pp. 153–172. ISSN 0342-3131.

Individual evidence

  1. Phillip Landgrebe: The travel report Dietrich von Schachten. In: Journal for Hessian History and Regional Studies. Volume 123, 2018, pp. 177-198.
  2. Summary by Jürgen Overhoff, Hamburg. ( Memento of April 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.6 MB)
  3. ^ Charles-Louis de Secondat Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu: My travels in Germany 1728–1729. Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-7681-9900-1 .
  4. Appendix travel journal from 1748. In: Gerhard Streminger : David Hume. The philosopher and his age. CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 3-406-61402-7 , pp. 603-626.
  5. Jürgen Osterhammel: The transformation of the world. A story of the 19th century. CH Beck. 2nd edition of the 2016 special edition. ISBN 978-3-406-61481-1 . P. 51
  6. Liu Jing (2000/2001) (PDF; 2.1 MB): Perception of the foreign: China in German and Germany in Chinese travel reports. From the Opium War to the First World War Diss. Phil. Albert Ludwig University