The Accidental Tourist: A Study

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The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
The Accidental Tourist is one of Anne Tyler's most acclaimed novels. Published in 1985, in the same year it was awarded by the NBCC or the National Book Critics Circle(a prestigious association of almost seven hundred book reviewers in America), and in 1988 was made into a major film. The title of the novel is crucial, both thematically and metaphorically. In the novel, the accidental tourist is the name of the conservative travel guide that is written by Macon, the main protagonist. This guidebook is tailored towards reluctant travelling businessmen; it details how to avoid the'foreign' and how to travel without feeling as though one has left home. Macon himself is a champion of this philosophy, as is revealed in his actions, attitudes and interior monologues. However his fear of the foreign does not limit itself to travel alone; he intentionally ostracizes himself and travels through life avoiding the foreign. The fact that the word'accidental' features in both the title of Macon's travel book and the novel itself is similarly equally as significant. The accidental is a major theme, and events occur in an accidental fashion, as I will expand upon later. However, more importantly, as the novel progresses, and Macon is exposed to many accidental and surprising changes, he finds himself increasingly as an accidental tourist. This is ironic; although Macon strives to plan every eventuality and work to systems, he is at the mercy of the accidental.It is only at the novels end when Macon initiates events and comes out of his shell that he eliminates the accidental and ceases to be the accidental tourist, as I will discuss later.
The Accidental Tourist is essentially a novel that traces the peculiar progress of the eccentric and conservative Macon Leary from lack to fulfilment. As the novel adopts a'domestic' subject matter of everyday experience, t…