Astrolabe N° 49

The transcendence of an individual into the broader mythology of a culture has a tendency to spark conflict over the narrative of that person's life, which may continue for generations, even centuries in the case of Captain James Cook.



The editors wish to express their thanks to the following institutions and persons for their financial support and active contribution to the project: The Hakluyt Society, the SELVA (Society for the Study of Anglophone Travel Literature), HDEA (Histoire et Dynamique des Espaces Anglophones, EA 4086) and VALE (Voix Anglophones: Littérature et Esthétique, EA 4085) research centres at Sorbonne Uni

Introduction (1)

Part 1: "Explorers and Conquerors" (2-3-4)

Part 2: "Transmissions and Translations" (5-6-7-8)

Part 3: "Artistic representations and heritage" (9-10-11)

Part 4: "James Cook Revisited" (12-13)

Drawing on Elias Canetti's classic Crowds and Power, Claire Jowitt notes how much the figure of the captain ruling the seas has provided a "powerful collective vision and symbol" of English self-identity over the past few centuries. Such has been the case at least since the time of the great Elizabethan explorers and privateers like Martin Frobisher, Francis Drake, or Thomas Cavendish.

Following the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) there was a period of peace until the onset of the War of American Independence. There was intense rivalry between the major powers - France and Great Britain - regarding the acquisition of new colonies. Now the ships formerly engaged in war could turn to exploration.

In chapter XII of the fourth and final book of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, first published in 1726, the eponymous character, Lemuel Gulliver, mentioned a task he had to fulfil upon his return to "civilisation", so to speak: "I confess, it was whispered to me, that I was bound in Duty as a Subject of England, to have given in a Memorial to a Secretary of State, at my first coming over; because, whatever Lands are discovered by a Subject belong to the Crown".

Halfway around the world from where Capt. James Cook recorded some of his greatest achievements, and where he met his death, sits a relic of his voyages "round the world." Deep in the Pocumtuc Valley, in rural Massachusetts, lies Historic Deerfield, a living history museum that commemorates early America with a sweeping array of material culture. Here, one can find a remarkable collection of powder horns, relics of the colonial wars. One of these tools is inscribed "John Parker His Horn 1775."

Published accounts of voyages of exploration have often been read as authentic, eyewitness reports of what occurred during the expedition, but rarely as literary and cultural constructions, sometimes very different from the texts they are based upon.

This volume would have been at least twice as large, if I had not made bold to strike out innumerable passages relating to the winds and tides, as well as to the variations and bearings in the several voyages, together with the minute descriptions of the management of the ship in storms, in the style of sailors; likewise the account of longitudes and latitudes; wherein I have reason to apprehend, that Mr. Gulliver may be a little dissatisfied. But I was resolved to fit the work as much as possible to the general capacity of readers.

The following article deals with two accounts of state-sponsored voyages undertaken in the early careers of renown navigators Louis-Antoine de Bougainville and James Cook in the 1760s.

It is well known that the eighteenth century had a craving for travel literature. To satisfy the demand of a growing readership, booksellers and printers would carry travel books written in their original languages but also, and mostly, in translation. Translation enhanced dissemination of knowledge and is part of the field that Charles Withers calls "book geography" which "addresses [...] the displacement of texts, reading, and reviewing practices in different physical and social spaces and the questions of meaning and epistemic significance that arise from such matters of geography.

For the 250th anniversary of Cook's expeditions, a large number of events are being organized around the world, often with public funding. These events are generally situated in a space of tension between commemoration and celebration, and also between history and heritage.

 The pocket globe published by John and William Cary in April 1791 was not intended to be a serious scientific instrument.[1] Constructed from papier mâché and plaster, and measuring just seventy-seven millimetres in diameter, it was unsuitable for any practical navigational

Captain Cook's voyages gained fame among the British and European public not only through the publication of Cook's amended journals by Hawkesworth and Douglas, but also thanks to the countless visual evidence that was collected during the expeditions, either in the form of cultural artifacts and ethnographic objects, or sketches, paintings, watercolours and drawings made by

Biography, or life writing, in the eighteenth century is understood as an important component in the construction of celebrity figures, where earlier hagiographic perspectives progressively merged with a secular, reflexive focus on verisimilitude. Brian Cowan discusses these generic movements with regard for example to Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791):

The transcendence of an individual into the broader mythology of a culture has a tendency to spark conflict over the narrative of that person's life, which may continue for generations, even centuries in the case of Captain James Cook.