by Glyn WilliamsFirstly, I'd recommend anyone with a general interest in this subject to skip this book and go straight to the same author's later "Arctic Labyrinth" which covers much the same ground but in the broader context of the whole search for the North west passage. This book covers the search in the 18th century, and whileit has its fair share of good stories,it feels like the beginning and end is missing.
What WIlliams is very good at is the often unexamined relationship between speculative cartography and exploration. WHich as he shows is not simply a conflict between imagination and experience.He's also good on the problem the stay at homes had sifting the stories:Christopher Middleton, for example suffered a horrendous winter in Hudson's Bay only to return and be told by his patron Arthur Dobbs he had exaggerated. How to tell the difference between the unimaginable reality of twelve feet of snow and ships frozen hard in the ice:the blatantly fictive journey's (like Swift's) and the fictive, but believable, whose claims that had ships searching for non existent straights.
There were those who simply didn't believe sea water could freeze and were prepared to tell Sailors like Cook who had seen it that they were mistaken.
As WIlliams outlines,the flip side of rationalism: an inability to believe the apparently irrational.
The book reproduces the maps and details their genesis with as much care as it details the voyages. It feels half way between a narrative history and a reference book. Not light reading by any means.
|Title||Voyages of Delusion|
|eBook format||Hardcover, (torrent)|
|Publisher||Yale University Press|
|File size||6.9 Mb|
|Book rating||4.61 (33 votes)