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Open Access Discovering the Realm of El Dorado: Ralegh and Schomburgk in the Guianas

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Discovering the Realm of El Dorado: Ralegh and Schomburgk in the Guianas

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[First paragraph]Sir Walter Ralegh’s Discoverie of Guiana. Joyce Lorimer (ed.). London: Ashgate (published for the Hakluyt Society), 2006. xcvii + 360 pp. (Cloth £55.00)The Guiana Travels of Robert Schomburgk 1835-1844. Volume I: Explorations on Behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, 1835-1839. Volume II: The Boundary Survey 1840-1844. Peter Riviére (ed.). Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate (published for the Hakluyt Society), 2006. xii + 266 pp. (Cloth US $99.95)The historiography and ethnology of northeastern South America has, with the publication of these two excellent volumes, been firmly and illuminatingly advanced. Firmly since the scholarly abilities of both editors in their preparation of the texts and key source materials make these works definitive. And illuminatingly because the primary documentary and published materials relating to both Walter Ralegh and Robert Schomburgk have, in different ways, been difficult to access. In the case of Ralegh (and here I am writing as the editor of a recent edition of his Discoverie) the location of the original source manuscript for the 1596 edition was unknown and thought lost. In the case of Schomburgk the publication of his travel accounts in the form of short articles, mostly in the Royal Geographical Journal, often made it difficult to access or copy these accounts. The result was that our understanding of the full impact of his travels and the corpus of his published work was considerably lessened.

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