Notes on the Location of Happiness


  • Anette Nyqvist Stockholm University



This article explores the world making capabilities of travel writing (Goodman 1978; Youngs 2013). The premise is that literary products are key elements in the configuration of the world itself and that specifically authors of travel accounts mediate the world to their readership at home (Archetti 1994).

By highlighting three different examples of travel writing, the article discusses the persistent notion of the tropical island as an actually existing paradise on earth. More specifically, the discussion focus around the notion that happiness exists in places to which one can travel to.

The examples at hand are two eighteenth century travel logs one French and one English; Louise-Antoine de Bougainville’s from 1772 and William Bligh’s from 1792, while the third and final example is a contemporary Swedish travel piece written by Anders Mathlein and first published in 2001.


Ahmed, Sara (2010): The Promise of Happiness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Alexander, Caroline (2003): The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. New York: Penguin.

Alighieri, Dante (2003 [1308-1320]): The Divine Comedy. Translated by Mark Musa. London: Penguin Classics.

Appleby, Joyce (2013): Shores of Knowledge. New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Archetti, Eduardo (1994): Exploring the Written. Anthropology and the Multiplicity of Writing. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

Bishop, Peter (1985): “The Geography of Hope and Despair: Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard,” Critique 26:4, 203–216.

Bligh, William (1792): A Voyage to the South Sea. London: George Nicol Bookseller to His Majesty.

Bolyanatz, Alexander (2004): Pacific Romanticism. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Borm, Jan (2004): “Defining Travel: On the Travel Book, Travel Writing and Terminology,” Glenn Hooper & Tim Youngs (eds): Perspectives on Travel Writing. London: Routledge.

Bouganville, Louis-Antoine de (1772): A Voyage round the World: Performed by Order of His Most Christian Majesty, in the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769. Translated by J. R. Forester. London: J. Nourse Bookseller to His Majesty & T. Davies Bookseller to the Royal Academy.

Clifford, James (1997): Routes: Travel and Translation in the late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1992): Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. London: Rider.

Delumeau, Jean (2000): History of Paradise. The Garden of Eden in Myth & Tradition. Translated by M. O´Connell. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Douglas, Bronwen (1999): “Art as Ethno-historical Text: Science, Representation and Indigenous Presence in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Oceanic Voyage Literature,” Nicholas Thomas & Diane Losche (eds): Double Vision: Art Histories and Colonial Histories in the Pacific. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edmond, Rod (2002): “The Pacific/Tahiti: queen of the South Sea isles,” Peter Hulme & Tim Youngs (eds): The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fernández-Armesto, Felipe (2002): “Jonathan Lamb, Vanessa Smith & Nicholas Thomas (eds), Exploration and Exchange: A South Seas Anthology, 1680-1900,” Journeys 3:2, 125–128.

Goodman, Nelson (1978): Ways of Worldmaking. Indianapolis: Hackett. Grove, Richard (1995): Green Imperialism. Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of environmentalism, 1600-1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Guttridge, Leonard (1992): Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection. Annapolis, ML: Naval Institute Press.

Hannerz, Ulf (2004): Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Hooper, Glenn & Tim Youngs (2004): “Introduction,” Glenn Hooper & Tim Youngs (eds): Perspectives on Travel Writing. London: Routledge.

Hough, Richard (1972): Captain Bligh and Mr Christian: The Men and the Mutiny. London: Hutchinsons.

Hulme, Peter & Tim Youngs (2002): “Introduction,” Peter Hulme & Tim Youngs (eds): The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Layton, Monique (2015): The New Arcadia: Tahiti’s Cursed Myth. Victoria, Canada: Friesen Press.

Lear, Jonathan (2000): Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McMahon, Darrin (2005): Happiness: A History. New York: Grove Press.

McMahon, Darrin (2007): The Pursuit of Happiness. A History from the Greeks to the Present. London: Penguin Books.

Mandeville, John (2005 [1357-1371]): The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Translated by C. Moseley. London: Penguin Classics.

Mathlein, Anders (1994): Senare i Söderhavet. Öar i drömmen och samtiden. [Later in the South Seas. Islands in dreams and the contemporary] Stockholm: Carlssons bokförlag.

Mathlein, Anders (2001): “Ön som är för bra för att vara sann.” [The island that is too good to be true] Dagens Nyheter, 1 April 2001.

Mathlein, Anders (2012): Annanstanslängtan. Noteringar från ett krympande klot. [Longing elsewhere. Notes from a shrinking globe] Stockholm: Santérus. “Fantastic.” Accessed November 22, 2017.

More, Thomas (2007 [1516]): Utopia. Sioux Falls, SD: NuVision Publications.

Pettinger, Alasdair & Tim Youngs (2019) “Introduction,” Alasdair Pettinger & Tim Youngs (eds): Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing. Oxfordshire: Taylor & Francis.

Pretzler, Maria (2013): Pausanias. Travel Writing in Ancient Greece. New York: Bloomsbury.

Saïd, Edward (1978): Orientalism. New York: Random House.

Smith, Bernard (1985): European Vision and the South Pacific. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Stanley, David (2004): South Pacific, 8th edition. Chico, CA: Moon Handbooks.

Sturma, Michael (2002): South Sea Maidens: Western Fantasy and Sexual Politics in the South Pacific. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.

Varisco, Daniel Martin (2007): Reading Orientalism. Saïd and the Unsaid. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Wulff, Helena (2016): “Introducing the Anthropologist as Writer. Across and Within Genres,” Helena Wulff, (ed.): The Anthropologist as Writer. New York: Berghahn Books.

Wulff, Helena (2017): Rhythms of Writing. An Anthropology of Irish Literature. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Youngs, Tim (2004): “Where Are We Going? Cross-border Approaches to Travel Writing,” Glenn Hooper & Tim Youngs (eds): Perspectives on Travel Writing. London: Routledge.

Youngs, Tim (2013): The Cambridge Introduction to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zumthor, Paul & Catherine Peebles (1994): “The Medieval Travel Narrative,” New Literary History 25:4, 809-824.




How to Cite

Nyqvist, A. (2021) “Notes on the Location of Happiness”, Culture Unbound, 13(2), pp. 87–103. doi: 10.3384/cu.1319.