What baggage do explorers bring to their experiences? The book summarises the various factors that influence the writing and interpretation of exploration narratives, demonstrating the limitations of the assumption that there is a direct relationship between what the explorer saw and what the text describes. Davies offers a revisionist evaluation of Captain Thomas James, who spent eighteen months in search of the Northwest Passage in the 1630s, to illustrate how modern textual analysis can enrich the appreciation of a traveller's account. Though James's work has been dismissed in the modern period, his work was highly regarded in previous centuries by scientist Robert Boyle and poet Samuel Coleridge. James was not a first-rank explorer, but he was an able navigator and leader, a perceptive scientific observer and a master author who produced a thrilling tale of adventure that should occupy a more prominent place in exploration writing and history, literary theory, and post-modern geography.
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Wayne Davies has written over a hundred academic essays and authored or edited nine books in a wide variety of research areas, including urban geography and the methods of geography. He is now back at the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary after a recent period at University College, Dublin as Craig Dobbin Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies.