A New Voyage Round the World. Daniel DEFOE.

A New Voyage Round the World.

London: A. Bettesworth, 1725.

Two parts bound in one, octavo, frontispiece and three engraved plates; a good copy in modern papered boards.

Back to the South Pacific: a British colony at Juan Fernandez?

First edition: six years after the publication of Robinson Crusoe, the author Defoe published this work, testament to his abiding interest in voyaging to the south Pacific and based on his extensive reading of classic voyage accounts.

First edition: six years after the publication of Robinson Crusoe, the author Defoe published this work, testament to his abiding interest in voyaging to the south Pacific and based on his extensive reading of classic voyage accounts.

In the wake of Dampier and the great buccaneering voyages (not for nothing does Defoe's book share the same title as Dampier's classic work of 1697), this was in large part a quite serious proposal for the creation of an English colony by seizing Spanish possessions in Chile, thereby taking control of what Defoe here describes in inviting terms as the "Golden Lake" of the Andes. Among much of interest, an important section of the work focusses on Juan Fernandez Island, the remote Pacific chain most famous for Crusoe's inspiration, Alexander Selkirk, marooned there between 1704 and 1709.

The work was, as Howgego has noted, "written to be believed," but is laced with invention and imagination, not only in the fanciful descriptions of life in South America, but with descriptions of floating islands and wildly imaginative accounts of the world of the South Pacific, as is reflected in the four plates (the frontispiece map and three views of life ashore).

Part clarion call for English colonialism and part sheer invention, this is a wonderful example of Defoe's abiding interest in the voyage and 'perhaps Defoe's best travel book' (Earle). "This imaginary voyage was intended for Antarctic discovery. Defoe takes his expedition first across to Buenos Aires, with a description of the country lying to the south of the Rio de la Plata. On attempting to round South America, the vessel was caught in a gale, and the crew ultimately made for the Cape of Good Hope, thence to Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Sumatra, Singapore, and the Philippines, where they traded their merchandise. Afterwards they sailed to New Guinea, and southwards to latitude 67 degrees South, whence ice was encountered, then to the island of Juan Fernandez, and to the coast of Chile. Part of the crew marched across the south of Patagonia, meeting the vessels near Port Desire, The ships ultimately reached England and France safely, with a very considerable treasure aboard" (Hill).

This dream of colonial expansion takes on a more purely imaginary aspect when it describes the voyage itself, in particular the lengthy passage dedicated to the description of the Republic of Alca, a floating island which has presently attached itself to the coast of Cherbourg in the English Channel. The Republic is best known for the church consecrated to the memory of Mäel who was 'sent by the devil to a deserted island in the Arctic Ocean where he decided, being naïve and generous, to baptise the sole inhabitants - the penguins' (Manguel). The Archangel Raphael was so pleased with Mäel's efforts that he changed the baptised penguins into men and then proceeded to make the island drift north until it finally reached its current resting point. The history of their civilisation, which mirrors Western history in its broad conception is chronicled in the famous Gesta Pingouinorum.

Condition Report: Light embrowning and scattered foxing throughout, but a good sound copy.

Price (AUD): $2,650.00

US$1,823.00   Other currencies

Ref: #5000476

Condition Report