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Ida e Volta à Procura de Babbitt, by Ilse Losa – a travel to America looking for Babbitt and for Selfhood

Ana Isabel Marques


Ilse Losa was a German-Jewish refugee who fled to Portugal in 1934 to escape Hitler’s policies. She decided to settle in Portugal, and in 1949 managed to get her first novel published, O Mundo em que Vivi. In 1960 she came to publish the travel narrative Ida e Volta: À Procura de Babbitt (Departure and Return: Looking for Babbitt) based on the trip she undertook to the United States of America. Since the traveler narrator was facing the American otherness and, therefore, becoming aware of her European identity, these are very relevant issues addressed in the narrative. Both political and ideological questions are also debated in the text. It should be noted that Portugal, at the time, was under Salazar’s dictatorship, and that the country was living an internal social crisis. Moreover, there were already some signs of conflicts in several Portuguese colonies. These are some of the aspects I have addressed in the analysis of the text Ida e Volta: À Procura de Babbitt by Ilse Losa, since it can be regarded as a narrative marked by a personal process of identity assertion, and also as a politically engaged text.


Travel narrative, identity, alterity, racism, Estado Novo

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