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Moorings: Portuguese Expansion and the Writing of Africa

Josiah Blackmore
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this first book to study Portuguese texts about Africa, Moorings brings an important but little-known body of European writings to bear on contemporary colonial thought. Images of Africa as monstrous, dangerous, and lush were created in early Portuguese imperial writings and dominated its representation in European literature. Moorings establishes these key works in their proper place: foundational to Western imperial discourse.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6630-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note to the Reader
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: Into Africa
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    On August 21, 1415, a company of soldiers under the orders of King João I of Portugal disembarked from a fleet of ships anchored off the coast of Morocco and went ashore to seize the city of Ceuta. According to chronicler of the Portuguese court Gomes Eanes de Zurara (or Azurara, 1410?–74?) in hisCrónica da Tomada de Ceuta(Chronicle of the Capture of Ceuta), Ceuta was in Portuguese hands by the end of the day. At a certain point, the chronicler writes, one of the king’s men approached the Moorish castle and paused and glanced upward at its...

  6. 1 Encountering the African
    (pp. 1-32)

    For Portugal on the eve of expansion, Africa was familiar and strange, a known place across the modest parcel of sea between the Algarve and Ceuta, and, farther south, an unknown expanse of land that glimmered black under the equatorial sun. It was at once a historical reality and a vast, limitless land of myth, monsters, and biblical time. Like Adamastor inOs Lusíadas, it was simultaneously spectral and concrete, imminent and distant. In the early fifteenth century it became, for the Portuguese, a laboratory of expansion, the primordial space of imperial and colonial campaigns. Africa’s borders were crossed and...

  7. 2 Expansion and the Contours of Africa
    (pp. 33-104)

    The campaigns of exploration and conquest begun with the capture of Ceuta in 1415 and that evolve into the expansive presence in Africa and India in the sixteenth century nurture a culture of writing that shapes Africa into a historiographic enterprise, one that includes traditional genres such as the chronicle as well as the kinds of texts that are a direct product of maritime voyaging such as theroteiro(rutter) or the personal account of nautical voyages. Numerous descriptions of expeditions into Africa exist in manuscript and printed form.¹ This cultivation of prose writings immediately precedes and informsOs Lusíadas...

  8. 3 The Monster of Melancholy
    (pp. 105-154)

    Halfway throughOs Lusíadasand halfway through the voyage from Portugal to India that serves as the historical basis of Camões’s poem, Vasco da Gama and his fleet approach the southern tip of Africa. Known initially by the Portuguese as theCabo Tormentório(Cape of Storms) it was later renamed theCabo de Boa Esperançaor Cape of Good Hope. As Gama’s eastward-bound sailors draw near, a cloud appears and roils in the darkening sky, out of which an apparition takes shape—suddenly, thunderously, and terrifyingly, like a storm at sea. This apparition, whose name we soon learn is Adamastor,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 155-174)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 175-196)
  11. Index
    (pp. 197-204)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)