The Expatriate Experience, Self Construction, and the Flâneur in William Carlos Williams’ A Voyage to Pagany

by Gill, Patrick W

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis looks at the representation of expatriation in American literature and questions the extent to which it encompasses the various types of experience for American expatriate authors in the 1920s. In this project, I look at A Voyage to Pagany, a fictional expatriate account from the devotedly American William Carlos Williams and set it apart from other works of that era. I argue that Williams reappropriates the figure of Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur in his work to show that the true expatriate experience is not specific to milieus inhabited by artists but is contingent upon the act of writing. By excavating the tradition of the flâneur in his work, Williams questions the idea that the flâneur is specifically a Parisian figure. As opposed to theorists, such as Walter Benjamin, who are adamant in their stance that the flâneur must be Parisian, Williams prioritizes the wandering artist’s occupation with writing over the artist’s national allegiance. In Williams’ novel, the expatriate must move away from the writing circles of Paris in order to fully engage the imagination and enact the process of writing.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:flaneur flanerie pagany a voyage to williams william carlos expatriation milieu expatriate dandy bohemian baudelaire americanism travel writing


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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