I ALWAYS HATED HOLIDAYS Introduction This text is an excerpt from Paradise News, written by David Lodge, a famous British writer. It was published in 1991. This passage, which is entitled "I always hated holidays", tackles the issue of mass tourism. The scene takes place in an airport and relates a conversation between two characters, namely Bernard Walsh, who is going away on holiday to Hawaii, and Sheldrake, who is an anthropologist studying tourism. First, I would like to describe the negative aspects of holidays developed in the text. Then, I will explain Sheldrake's theory about mass tourism Finally. I will concentrate on Sheldrake's attitude and Bernard's role in the passage. I THE AWFUL HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT HOLIDAYS
The very first words uttered by Sheldrake in this passage are : I always hated holidays (l 1), a statement in sharp contrast with public opinion. Sheldrake explains that in his case holidays have always been synonymous with boredom (Bored the pants off me l 8-9). When he was a child, he could not stand wasting his time on the beach. When he got older he remained unwilling to go abroad. Sheldrake thinks that travelling is nothing but a waste of time and energy, whatever you do, either going to the beach or sightseeing. But he was always compelled to travel, by his family and then by his girlfriend (insisted, dragging me l6). Sheldrake uses several arguments to demonstrate the negative aspects of travelling. People are totally mistaken when they value holidays as a precious relaxing time in the year. To his mind, sightseeing and tourism not only generate boredom, but they also trigger a lot of stress. Although it is generally believed that holidays enable people to escape from a stressful, hectic life, Sheldrake argues that holidays themselves create stress while praising the routine of daily life. Furthermore, tourism is no longer what it used to be. It has turned into what is called mass tourism. We are given amazing figures about this skyrocketing trend. (l 37-40 : 400 million international travellers in 1990 and 650 in 200). However accurate such figures may be, they nonetheless reflect a well-known fact of today's Western societies : every citizen from a developed country enjoys travelling, in their own countries or abroad. Sheldrake debunks the myth of holidays and draws our attention on the notions of conformity and the loss of individual identities. Nowadays, a large majority of people go away on holiday; they choose the same destinations, get involved in the same activities there and even behave in the same way. This is emphasised in the text in the first paragraph with umpteen different languages, the list of religions and the list of must-sees. The tourists go to Paris, Venice, Florence to see the Sistine Chapel, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon. The tourists' activities are represented as meaningless. Tourists are described as busy as bees and as agitated as ants. This agitation is highlighted with the use of accumulations, swift rhythm and the verb mill. How come such arguments are not widely known? What is Sheldrake's theory?
II SHELDRAKE'S THEORY ON MASS TOURISM 1- A manipulation organised by the consumer society
The worldwide phenomenon of mass tourism is all due to a huge manipulation campaign: People have been brainwashed into thinking it will do them good or make them happy (l 23-24). Advertisers resort to skilful marketing strategies. Travel agents sell happiness to consumers in the shape of package holidays. The quest for happiness has been replaced by the quest for holidays. But this standard behaviour is totally artificial. The narrator highlights this observation by showing how ridiculous tourists look. First, he compares them with busy animals when sightseeing ; then he draws a caricature of a group of tourists next to them, Americans on their way to Hawaii. The passengers are seen through Bernard's eyes and he is quite ironic. He obviously makes fun of their clothes while Sheldrake claims that the holidaymakers around them look excited only because they are drunk. Sheldrake wants consumers to be aware that they are manipulated or alienated by tourism industry and peer pressure. 2- Religion
Indeed, tourism is the new world religion (l 13-14), the key sentence in the text, or the new opium of the people (l 46). According to Sheldrake, mass tourism has replaced religion. It is the new common belief shared by every single citizen of the world, as shown by the accumulation of religious groups l 14-15: Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and including atheists. 3- Disastrous consequences, especially on the environment
Such a widespread phenomenon contributes to widen the gap between the wealthy and the needy. Besides, the environment is threatened by man's activities. Sheldrake feels concerned about this issue and wants to warn people about the damage they cause by travelling on such a large scale.. According to Sheldrake, tourism is extremely harmful to the earth. Drastic measures must be taken to avoid further depleting the resources of our planet and eventually leading to the end of the world.
(Sheldrake's theory on mass tourism seems all the more farfetched as it is delivered with a solemn tone on the part of Sheldrake and is only made possible with the help of Bernard's tactful yet reserved attitude.)
III THE CHARACTERS:SHELDRAKE'S ATTITUDE AND THE ROLE OF BERNARD
The conversation that takes place between the two characters actually consists in the confrontation of a traditional point of view on holidays and a brand-new opinion, revolutionary as it were, that of Sheldrake. 1- Bernard
Bernard plays a key role in the passage in so far as his reactions and words are quite similar to the readers'. Bernard speaks very little compared to Sheldrake's lengthy demonstration, but he does not appear as a gullible character either. Indeed, he lets Sheldrake describe his elaborate theory, carefully dropping a question here and then, which enables Sheldrake to develop his thoughts, but also compels him to be more specific and clear at some points. For instance, Bernard asks Sheldrake to explain what he barely alludes to on line 20: What d'you mean?. On line 34, he enquires on the purpose of Sheldrake's research work, using the words exactly and achieve, as if he could not help having the feeling that however enticing Sheldrake's theory might be, it remains a plain theory. On line 36, Bernard is startled by so much self-confidence : I beg your pardon? At other times, Bernard remains sceptical and uses the reality around him to contradict his new friend's explanations. On line 26, with Those people look cheerful enough, Bernard does not sound convinced at all. To a certain extent, we can say that Bernard plays the part of the incredulous reader in front of such radical views about holidays. 2- Sheldrake's attitude
We cannot comment on this text and fail to notice the funny elements to be found in the extract. Of course, Sheldrake's theory can be seen as far-fetched hence slightly comical, but overall the funniest aspect of our passage is probably due to Sheldrake's attitude, his megalomania. Sheldrake is shown as a ridiculous character throughout the excerpt. He is committed to saving the world, no less. He sees himself as a new genius whose revolutionary theory will create a major upheaval all around the world. His mission is that of a saviour and he explicitly compares himself to Marx and Freud. Sheldrake claims that his influence in the field of tourism is to become as essential as the work of Marx in economics or that of Freud in psychoanalysis. He appears as extremely proud and self confident. (He presents us with a show, a well-rehearsed act. His tone is serious (solemnly l 35).)
- To conclude, I would like to give my opinion on the text and on holidays and travelling. - I found this text funny / interesting.... especially ...(an aspect, a theme, a character, a few lines..). What I liked best in this text is Sheldrake's character...