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Examples and Reflections about the Dialogue Between Orient and Occident

Alain Faudemay  
【摘要】:The notion of prejudice,which has been invested in Europe,since the Enlightenment,with such an importance,favours the dialogue between the civilizations in so far it perceives the limits of that dialogue. In those matters,the prejudice often consists in judging from oneself,it may be in space,and we fall into ethnocentrism,or in time,and we commit the sin of anachronism. Ethnocentrism begins with topography,as soon as it asserts the institution of a center,for instance the Middle Empire or the meridian of Greenwich. Space feeling may also be expressed psychologically,in the illusion of proximity:the foreigner believes he is a friend,whereas he is first a guest,according to an old conception of hospitality,which has often stopped being practised nowadays; however,the guest is not always perceived as a friend,there may even be some undesirable guests,especially if they settle in your home for too long a time. The favourite space may also,in some cases,be an axis rather a center,an axis which,whenever it is privileged,might occult other axes:Europe considers itself more often as the Occident than as the North,which suggests that the couple "Orient-Occident",so frequent in European literatures,governs its thought more than the relation between North and South. Prejudices are fostered by interest,but this word,strangely enough,has two nearly contradictory meanings,according as it leads to curiosity,which is supposed to be disinterested,or to profit. We recognize this importance of interest in the motivations of travel,one of the fundamental points of contacts between civilizations. Travellers and,with all the more reason,exiles and immigrants,who stay a longer time and who define themselves either through their original community or through their adopted country,all three categories have been often mostly pushed to move by the hope of a profit. Until a recent period,the great majority of travellers had a professional aim:the knowledge of the country was then a path to success,not an aim in itself,for the merchants,diplomats and missionaries,let's say for Marco Polo,Count de Guilleragues or Reverend Father Huc. When George Sand visits the Spanish island of Mallorca in the winter 1838-1839,an editor,Buloz,encourages her to write:she is in fact no longer a traveller who writes,but a writer who travels,and this new attitude coincides with the beginning of "tourism"; the word "tourist" is first employed in French without any reference to the British travellers in 1833,in Balzac's correspondence. In spite of all that seems to bring together the travelling writer and the tourist,writers have always tried to separate from tourists,whom they considered as the victims of cliches and prejudices:hence Gautier's and Labiche's irony,in the second third of the XIXth century,towards tourism; anyway,the travel narrative must henceforward differ from the tourist guides,which are more and more to be found. Those texts by Gautier and Labiche are published somewhat before or after "Madame Bovary":also Flaubert's heroin dreams about travels,but touristic snobbishness suggests that culture,being thus vulgarized,is subordinated to social appearances,and that the tourist's half knowledge,perhaps still more noxious than ignorance,leads him to misunderstanding.

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