The Fictitious World Traveller: The Swede on Timor and the Noble Savage Imagery


  • Hans Hägerdal History, Linnaeus Unversity, Sweden



Travel fiction, Timor, noble savage, Islam, Christina Cronhjelm


Travel writing soared in the Western world in the early-modern era with the widening geographical knowledge. This was accompanied by a genre of travel fiction. The present study analyses a short Swedish novella from 1815, Swensken på Timor (The Swede on Timor), “translated” by Christina Cronhjelm from a purported English account. It is a romantic tale of a Swedish sailor who is shipwrecked and is adopted by an indigenous group on the Southeast Asian island Timor, marrying a local woman and converting to Islam. The novella is remarkable for the positive portrayal of indigenous society and to some extent Islam. The article discusses the literary tropes influencing the account, and the partly accurate ethnographic and historical details.


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Theme: Concurrences: Culture Bound and Unbound