Novelistic passepartouts and travel accessories
What do we pack in our kit bag when we set sail? What role do "travel accessories" play in the economy of the crossing? What tale is told by all these objects that accompany migrants when they cross the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or the Alps – literally or metaphorically? What exactly is the purpose of the compasses, the binoculars, the maps, the suitcases that weigh down travellers while still enabling them to find their way on the other side? In other words, what do we bring with us from the world of yesterday into the world of today and tomorrow? Photos, talismans, mementos, or just ineffective nostalgia? What traces remain – concrete or symbolic – of the loss, the shadow cast by a paradise lost?
The suitcase (or trunk or kit bag) is used to carry our most precious belongings, in terms of objects and memories. The map helps us find our way in the selva oscura or the jungle of the New World. The sextant and the compass enable us to find our bearings when we are disorientated – in other words, to find the Pole Star when we've lost our way. But once we bring them into literature, all these objects weigh more than their own weight, which is measurable and adjustable. For more information, we question travellers of all sorts, migrants and holiday-makers, whom a string of novelists, artists and filmmakers have enabled to set sail. Robinson Crusoe, of course, but also his distant cousins – Eugène Ionesco's Man with Bags, David Albahari's Snow Man, Franz Kafka's The Man who Disappeared and Negar Djavadi's Disoriental.
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