Redefining “The Romance of Travel” in Edith Wharton’sA Motor‐Flight Through France Public

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  • In the beginning of her travelogue, A Motor‐Flight Through France (1908), Edith Wharton declares that “the motor‐car has restored the romance of travel.” Many scholars have taken this statement as an index to the book’s themes. However, my reading closely examines particular moments of travel (specifically Wharton’s visits to Beauvais and Les Andelys) to critically interrogate the proposed relationship between “romance” and the motor‐car. Focusing on Part I of Motor‐Flight, which details Wharton’s travels in the northwest of France, my thesis argues that motor travel actually appears monotonous and uninteresting compared to the rather romantic cathedrals, rivers, and castles that she visits. It appears, I argue, that Wharton’s search for the “romance of travel” is truly satisfied by these physical historical places rather than the modernized motor‐car and its accompanying roads.
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