The emergence of empirically ‘true’ accounts manifests itself most conspicuously in texts about travel to ‘foreign’ worlds. Travel writing naturally represents a wide range of encounters with the foreign; in fact the literature of travel has been pre-eminent in the European construction of the ‘other’ or ‘exotic’ worlds.1 Thus it exemplifies how complex any notion of foreignness or ‘other’ness actually is — not only in our present, globalized world in which cultural interference and interaction have become a commodity of everyday existence. Recent research in anthropology, cultural studies, psychoanalysis and other disciplines has established that all concepts of the ‘other’ are projections of the ‘self and thus essentially slippery, relational and relative.2 The foreignness of a travelled country is always the result of an act of construction on the part of the perceiver, who defines the country’s otherness against his or her own sense of identity, his or her own familiar contexts.


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  1. 17.
    These texts on the so-called Virginia Colonies are cited from the edition by A.L. Rowse which is listed in the bibliography. Reference will be made to the following accounts: Edward Hayes, ‘Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s Newfoundland Voyage, 1583’, Silvester Wyet, ‘The Newfoundland Voyage of the Grace, 1594’, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow, ‘The First Virginia Voyage, 1584’, Ralph Lane, ‘The First Virginia Colony, 1585–6’, as well as Thomas Hariot, ‘Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia’. One of the most famous Elizabethan explorer accounts, Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Discovery of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana (1596), is discussed extensively by Campbell (1988). Charles Nicholl’s The Creature in the Map (1995) is a fascinating piece of scholarship-cum-travelogue which retraces Raleigh’s expedition in quest of El Dorado and its contemporary background, including alchemy.Google Scholar

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© Catherine Matthias 2000

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  • Barbara Korte

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