To bear witness to events of the social, historical, political and personal moment through non-fictional texts like travel writing requires a close reading of the relationship between the writer and what s/he says.
This study examines the way in which travel writing and early journalistic writing can be practically examined using theories of testimony and interrogating the place and method of parrhesia, or truth-telling in non-fictional texts. My point of departure are texts by Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Ella Maillart who traveled together to Afghanistan. Their writing is a cross between literary essay, photojournalism, travel accounts, testimony and personal soul searching. The significance of the choice to experience truth through non-fictional texts is explored within the framework of several questions. Can travel writing be understood as testimony? How much fictive-value does truth have when framed as testimony (Derrida)? Where is the line between re-presenting, making present again, and presenting experiences especially in regards to different cultures?