In the decades leading up to England's first permanent American colony, the literature that emerged needed to establish certain realities against a background of skepticism, and it also had to find ways of theorizing the enterprise. The voyage narratives evolved almost from the outset as a genre concerned with recuperating failure--as noble, strategic, even as a form of success. Reception of these texts since the Victorian era has often accepted their claims of heroism and mastery; this study argues for a more complicated, less glorious history.
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Early ventures: writing under the Gilbert and Ralegh patents; 2. Ralegh's discoveries: the two voyages to Guiana; 3. Mastering words: the Jamestown colonists and John Smith; 4. The 'great prose epic': Hakluyt's Voyages; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
"Mary C. Fuller has written a wonderful account of the early English Voyages....We who are interested to read and write those other histories have in Fuller's book a model combination of historical insight, thorough research, lively writing, and good ideas about the function of the aesthetic and the rhetorical in the psychodramas of nation-building." Mary Baine Campbell, American Historical Review
"Mary Fuller's book is an invigorating addition to the current discussion of travel writing and its relationship to colonial theory which has captivated the critical community of late. What is so refreshing about Fuller's argument is her focus on 'demystifying the early history of English America as glorious expansion....Fuller's book has many strengths to recommend it....Fuller's welcome book points the way toward as yet unexplored territory that will undoubtedly be probed by critics well into the twenty first century-critics who like the the travelers Fuller profiles, will be in pursuit of textual gold for themselves." Lora Edmister Geriguis, JOurnal of English and Germanic Philology
"The great virtue of the book is...that it provides yet further demonstration of the extent to which literary scholars have made their own the entire subject of English overseas exploration which was studied by successive generations of historians ranging from Froude and Seeley in the ninteenth to A.L. Rowse in the present century, but which is now ignored by most practitioners of the history of early modern Britain." Nicholas Canny, Sixteenth Century Journal