The Experienced Traveller as a Professional Author: Friedrich Ludwig Langstedt, Georg Forster and Colonialism Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Germany



The aim of this article is to show the centrality of the concept of experience in the cultural industry of travel writing in eighteenth-century Germany as well as examining the influence of British colonial discourse on German interpretations of the non-European world. The first aim is achieved through analysing the literary career of Friedrich Ludwig Langstedt, who on the basis of a five-year stay in India, was able to claim the status of expert on the non-European world and become the author of many books on a variety of subjects related to travel. His case is compared to that of Georg Forster, whose career was similarly shaped by the experience of travel. Both of them represent relatively rare examples in the eighteenth century of literary agents with actual experience in travel outside Europe. The second aim is achieved through an analysis of Langstedt's interpretations of India, showing how his support for East India Company rule was based on uncritical borrowings from British sources. A comparison with Forster's more critical treatment of British colonialism in India shows that Forster was much influenced by British sources.