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Travel Narratives: “The Grand Tour” by Osnos and “About Mike Pugh” Essay


Travel narratives cannot be viewed only as mere descriptions of places, customs, or events witnessed by an author on a certain occasion. Such an assumption is by no means accurate. In many cases, they can throw light on the values and attitudes of a writer. As a rule, his/her worldviews can be reflected in such texts. Additionally, very often, the author can create a specific identity for a place, even though this identity is based mostly on the writer’s subjective impression or opinions that are not fully supported by empirical data or even observations. Moreover, such texts can show the way in which a person perceives the behavior of other people and their lifestyles. These are some of the issues that should not be overlooked. So, in many cases, such texts can be very informative. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about such readings as Evan Osnos The Grand Tour and excerpts from the blog Vagabonding by Mike Pugh.

These texts can be better analyzed with the help of Paul Theroux article Why We Travel. It can be used as the lens source. Although these sources demonstrate that travelling can enrich the inner world of a person and his/her understanding of other cultures, their arguments made by the authors significantly differ as to the role that travelling should play in the life of an individual. In particular, Mike Pugh is open to new experiences and values of other people, while Evan Osnos depicts people who are interested only in those things that can effectively supplement the Chinese culture and offer new opportunities to Chinese people many of whom have not been able to explore new countries or cultures in the past. This is the main thesis that should be elaborated in greater detail.

At first, it is necessary to mention that that both authors recognize the need to travel because this activity can help a person widen his/her outlooks. To a great extent, this activity can help a person learn more about people’s values, worldviews, and behavior patterns. For example, Mike Pugh says, “I view travel as life’s great educator. There’s no better way to learn about people and nature and your place in the world”(Pugh 1). Therefore, this author compares travelling to exploration which is critical for the ability of a person to understand various social or cultural phenomena (Pugh 1). So, this is the attitude that this writer adopts. Similarly, Evan Osnos explores the experiences of Chinese people who travel through such European countries as Italy or France. In the past, they have been denied the opportunity to do it due to financial difficulties. Furthermore, in many cases, they do not have any financial opportunities to do it (Osnos 5). Nevertheless, the author also mentions that in 2010, fifty-seven million people from China went abroad as tourists (Osnos 5). Moreover, this trend is more likely to persist in the future.

Similarly, this author mentions some of the principles that are imbedded in the Chinese culture. In particular, one can refer to the idea that Chinese people should use the “tools” of Western people and “learn their methods” since this knowledge is essential for personal progress (Osnos 14). The author vividly describes the experiences of people who feel the need to discovery “Our Chinese ancestors left us so many things, but why do we find it so difficult to discover new things?” (Osnos 13). Therefore, they believe that travelling is vital for the long-term progress of individual and the community, in general. In this way, they can discover new ideas, cultural forms or even new ways of thinking. This is the main goal of visiting other countries. This issue is also explored by Paul Theroux who compares travelling to “enrichment” and “life-altering experience” (1). These are some of the main details that should be taken into consideration by the readers of these texts.

Moreover, it is possible to say that these authors can show how travelers can discover new ways of thinking or behavior patterns. For example, Chinese people are more accustomed to quick-paced lifestyles. In their opinion, the life of people in Western Europe is very slow (Osnos 6). Moreover, they can see that people can live under different social conditions. For instance, one can speak about such things as “a rowdy free press” and “a social safety net forged by political wrangling” because they are not familiar to people living in China (Osnos 14). Similarly, Mike Pugh is utterly astonished by the fact that in some countries, people can live “in fear of the government” (Pugh 4). This experience is utterly unacceptable to him, and he cannot understand why some people can become accustomed to it. Furthermore, this author is not accustomed to the idea that people can tolerate corruption and omnipotence of the government (Pugh 3).

Overall, these examples indicate that people can learn about different lifestyles. Therefore, one can say that these writers emphasize the idea that travelling can be compared to education. In his turn, Paul Theroux mentions that the “sense of discovery” is one of the major rewards that travelling can offer (5). To a great extent, this argument is expressed by many travel writers. These are some of the points that can be made. Certainly, the narrative styles of these writers differ significantly. Furthermore, Evan Osnos looks through the eyes of another person. In contrast, Mike Pugh focuses on his own experiences and observation of other cultures.

Therefore, it is possible to say Paul Theroux’s arguments are consistent with the ideas expressed b Mike Pugh and Evan Osnos. In each of the three cases, the joy of discovery can be viewed as an incentive that prompts an individual to go to foreign countries. To a great extent, this experience can make the life of a person more fulfilling.

Nevertheless, there are some important differences that should be overlooked by the readers; in particular, one should speak about the author’s attitudes to travel. In particular, Mike Pugh regards traveling as a part of his identity. For instance, this author says that he comes “from a long line of travelers” (Pugh 1). He does not want to limit his worldview and stay only within the realm of Western culture (Pugh 1). This attitude is not quite acceptable to him. This is why the author chose to save every “every penny” in order to afford a trip (Pugh 1). Furthermore, this author admits that he is willing to learn more about different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles adopted in other countries, even though he may not live in these countries for a very long time. To some degree, the title of his blog Vagabonding suggests that travel is a life-time activity. This is one of the points that that should be considered while analyzing the narrative of this author who can make many thought-provoking comments about other cultures.

Nevertheless, Evan Osnos describes a more cautious attitude to travelling. For example, the author mentions the phrase by a Chinese tourist who says, “China will always maintain its own way” (Osnos 14). To a great extent, it indicates that Chinese people maintain a critical attitude toward foreign culture. Moreover, this author shows that some people are less willing to travel unless there is some real need to do it (Osnos 5). In other words, an individual should clearly identify a rationale for travelling; otherwise, it can be viewed as a fruitless activity which cannot really benefit a person (Osnos 14). Moreover, at some point, this urge to travel will be satisfied. To some degree, this attitude is imbedded in China. This country has long been isolated from foreign influences. Yet, the representatives of this culture believe that it is self-sufficient. These are some of the details that should be taken into account since it is important for the analysis of this reading.

It should be noted that people may set different objectives when they travel to other countries. Mike Pugh lays stress on exploration of new lifestyles. This goal is important for explanation the motives of many travel writers who try to discover new countries, traditions, and so forth. In contrast, Evan Osnos depicts the experiences of people for whom travelling is only a short-term necessity, but not a life-long desire (Osnos 14). This is one of the distinctions that should not be overlooked by the readers. To a great extent, these travel narrative illustrate different attitude toward new cultures. Moreover, they are helpful for understanding the values of people who write travel narratives. These are some of the aspects that should be identified because they are important for the analysis of this text. Overall, this discussion indicates that in many cases, travel narratives are not only about foreign countries or cultures. In many cases, they can throw light on the attitudes of a certain writer and his/her attitudes to new lifestyles and cultural norms. So, in many cases, such narratives are very informative. This is one of the aspects that should be considered.

Therefore, this discussion indicates that travel narratives can throw light on the value of a writer, his/her priorities, and attitudes toward other cultures. In many cases, such texts can help the readers to get insights into the inner world of a person. This issue is particularly relevant if one speaks about Evan Osnos and Mike Pugh. Both authors accept the importance of travelling as a form of education. Nevertheless, these writers show that the people’s attitudes toward travelling can differ profoundly. For example, Mike Pugh shows that for many people, travelling can be a part of the life-time activity which is important for the personal development. In contrast, Evan Osnos shows that people can regard travelling only as a short-term necessity which is not a part of a personal identity. The article Why We Travel by Pual Theroux is more consistent with Mike Pugh’s ideas. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.

 

Works Cited

Osnos, Evan. “The Grand Tour.” The New Yorker, 2011: 1-15. Print.

Pugh, Mike. “About Mike Pugh.” Vagabonding, n. d. Web.

Theroux, Paul. “Why We Travel.” The New York Times, 2011: 1-6. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Travel Narratives: “The Grand Tour” by Osnos and “About Mike Pugh”." May 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/travel-narratives-the-grand-tour-by-osnos-and-about-mike-pugh/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Travel Narratives: “The Grand Tour” by Osnos and “About Mike Pugh”." May 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/travel-narratives-the-grand-tour-by-osnos-and-about-mike-pugh/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Travel Narratives: “The Grand Tour” by Osnos and “About Mike Pugh”'. 13 May.

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