A Voyage Round the World, Volume 1

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University of Hawaii Press, 2000 - Travel - 860 pages
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George Forster's A Voyage Round the World presents a wealth of geographic, scientific, and ethnographic knowledge uncovered by Cook's second journey of exploration in the Pacific (1772-1775). Accompanying his father, the ship's naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster, on the voyage, George proved a knowledgeable and adept observer. The lively, elegant prose and critical detail of his account, based loosely on his father's journal, make it one of the finest works of eighteenth-century travel literature and an account of prime importance in the history of European contact with Pacific peoples. The Forsters' publications reveal the sophistication and enthusiasm they brought to their observation of Polynesian peoples as well as a sensitivity to the moral ambiguities of contact.

The two volumes of George Forster's work include substantially richer descriptions of encounters with island inhabitants than either his father's classic work (Observations Made during a Voyage round the World, UH Press, 1996) or Cook's official narrative, and its confident, even visionary, style incorporates a good deal of polemic, particularly in its criticism of the treatment of islanders by Cook's crew. In addition to the range and depth of its anthropological considerations, it provides a thrilling account of life aboard one of Cook's vessels.

In its author's German translation, this work becomes a classic of natural history writing, but its original English version has long been neglected by anglophone scholars. This new scholarly edition makes this important book readily available for the first time since its initial publication more than two centuries ago. But it also presents the work in fresh terms, making it more accessible and relevant to a contemporary audience. The valuable introduction and annotations draw on the wide range of anthropological and ethnohistorical scholarship published since the 1960s and contextualize the book in relation to both the cultures of Oceania documented by the Forsters and the history of European voyaging in the Pacific. Appendixes include a translation of the introduction to the German edition and the polemical pamphlets by George Forster and the ship's astronomer William Wales, in which some of the book's more controversial claims were debated.

A Voyage Round the World brings the disciplines of history and anthropology to bear on Cook's voyages in an illuminating and readable fashion. This edition will help complete the corpus of basic documents on Cook's voyages--a crucial resource for researchers in cultural, Pacific, and maritime history; archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians; and most recently for scholars engaged in revisionist interpretations of eighteenth-century exploration and colonization.

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About the author (2000)

Nicholas Thomas is director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge. He first visited the Pacific in 1984 to research his PhD thesis on the Marquesas Islands. He has since written extensively on art, empire, and related themes, and curated exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, many in collaboration with contemporary artists. His early book, Entangled Objects, influentially contributed to a revival of material culture studies. He went on to publish, among other works, Oceanic Art in the Thames and Hudson World of Art series and Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire, which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize.

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