The Presence of European Travel Literature in the Libraries of European Merchants in the Levant

Cornel Zwierlein - Professor/PD, Associate Fellow of the Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, Universität Erfurt



This paper will analyse the presence of Western travel literature – which also forms the corpus of the Zefyros programme – in the libraries of Western European merchants in the Levant.

This study is based on archival material from London (Kew), Paris and Nantes, mostly the chancery records of the Levantine consulates in which library catalogues of deceased or bankrupt merchants were noted. An astonishingly high number of the same travel accounts that are used for content analysis in the Zefyros programme were in the possession of British and French merchants in the Levant: surprisingly, with access to publications in Western languages, they read in the Levant itself about the Levant.

The paper seeks to understand this phenomenon and how the Western perception of the Levant travelled with Westerners themselves into the Levant.



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