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Wild Europe

The Balkans in the Gaze of Western Travellers

by: Božidar Jezernik 
original title: Dzika Europa - Bałkany w oczach zachodnich podróżników
published by: Saqi Books
pp: 320
ISBN:  9780863565748
price: £ 14.99

Book's frontpage

Combining irony with detailed historical and cultural research, Jezernik reveals how from the mid 16th to the late 20th century "The Balkans" have been perceived by west European travellers and experts, many of whom have seen it as part of Asia and sought accordingly to inform their contemporaries of its "exotic", "outlandish" and "primitive" ways.
The rich source material includes citations from naturalists, geographers, historians and social scientists: from Joseph de Tournefort and Henry Blount via Karl Baedeker, William Gladstone and Paulina Irby, to Edith Durham, Rebecca West and Julia Kristeva. Exploring over 1000 first-hand reports and comparing narratives spanning almost five centuries, the author demonstrates how the project of observing other people in their environment mirrors the observers' own culture and environment.
Thus the impressions passed down through the ages about the Balkans say more about Western Europe in most respects than about the lands and people in question.


Table of contents

The land where the east begins

Ladies with greasy fingers 
Breast-feeding prejudice

Males with tails  

Eyes that cannot see   
The romantic charm of freedom

Passionate about head-hunting     

Where paradise was but a sip of hellish brew away 

A true comedy of errors

A bridge between barbarity and civilisation

Little Parises and large Bucharests




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