Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia as a Voyage of Self-discovery

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Kusum Srivastava

Abstract

Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a particular place, for the pleasure of travel or for any other motive. An individual work of this nature is sometimes called a travelogue. Travel literature may be crosscultural or transnational in focus, or it may involve travel to different regions within the same country. The literature included in this genre is in the form of letters, memoirs, records, diaries, stories, novels and histories. All of us have read Chaucer’s “ Canterbury Tales” which is one of the best examples of travel writings of ancient times. In the 15th century some women also tried their hands in this field. They were recording impressions of their travels on paper. The Book of Margery Kempe, 1946, is one such example. Ever since then, women across the globe have taken to this field. The novel which I have taken up for my paper is Elizabeth Gilbert’s -Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Spanning three countries, this book is a memoir of soul- searching and self-discovery. All memoir is, by definition, self-involved. If novels are mirrors held up to nature, memoirs are mirrors held up to the self. This memoir is an eloquent account of Gilbert’s pursuit of worldly pleasures in Italy, spiritual devotion in India, and a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence on the Indonesian island of Bali. The memoir describes how Gilbert leaves behind an excruciating divorce, tumultuous affair, and debilitating depression as she sets off on a yearlong quest to bridge the gulf between body, mind, and spirit. She sets out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures. Written in a direct and succinct narrative style, this travelogue, itenary or memoir is an appealing invitation to fresh-air hungry literary visitors to explore these countries. Gilbert’s book is one of the best books in the travel literature genre that I’ve read in recent times.

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