Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa

Overview

Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa has long been regarded as a classic of African travel literature. In fulfilling his mission to find the Niger River and in documenting its potential as an inland waterway for trade, Park was significant in opening Africa to European economic interests. His modest, low-key heroism made it possible for the British public to imagine themselves as a welcomed force in Africa. As a tale of adventure and survival, it has inspired the imaginations of readers since ...

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Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa

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Overview

Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa has long been regarded as a classic of African travel literature. In fulfilling his mission to find the Niger River and in documenting its potential as an inland waterway for trade, Park was significant in opening Africa to European economic interests. His modest, low-key heroism made it possible for the British public to imagine themselves as a welcomed force in Africa. As a tale of adventure and survival, it has inspired the imaginations of readers since its first publication in 1799 and writers from Wordsworth and Melville to Conrad, Hemingway, and T. Coreghessan Boyle have acknowledged the influence of Park’s narrative on their work.
Unlike the large expeditions that followed him, Park traveled only with native guides or alone. Without much of an idea of where he was going, he relied entirely on local people for food, shelter, and directions throughout his eventful eighteen month journey. While his warm reaction to the people he met made him famous as a sentimental traveler, his chronicle also provides a rare written record of the lives of ordinary people in West Africa before European intervention. His accounts of war, politics, and the spread of Islam, as well as his constant confrontations with slavery as practiced in eighteenth-century West Africa, are as valuable today as they were in 1799. In preparing this new edition, editor Kate Ferguson Marsters presents the complete text and includes reproductions of all the original maps and illustrations.
Park’s narrative serves as a crucial text in relation to scholarship on the history of slavery, colonial enterprise, and nineteenth-century imperialism. The availability of this full edition will give a new generation of readers access to a travel narrative that has inspired other readers and writers over two centuries and will enliven scholarly discussion in many fields.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In a time when the world has grown tame and we have to manufacture our adventures, Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa is both an education and a delight. The Africa he entered was uncharted and unknown, the farthest outpost of a truly wild and richly mysterious planet. He was the first European to go there and come back again, and he rewarded his society—and ours—with a geographical and anthropological marvel of a book, an adventure story to cap them all.”—T. Coraghessan Boyle

“Western Sudan . . . means for me an episode in Mungo Park’s life. It means for me the vision of a young, emaciated, fair-haired man, clad simply in a tattered shirt and worn-out breeches, gasping painfully for breath and lying on the ground in the shade of an enormous African tree (species unknown), while from a neighboring village of grass huts a charitable black-skinned woman is approaching him with a calabash full of pure cold water, a simple draught which, according to himself, seems to have effected a miraculous cure.”—Joseph Conrad, from Geography and Some Explorers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822325376
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,447,023
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mungo Park (1771–1805) was a Scottish explorer who, at the age of twenty-four, travelled alone to Africa in search of the Niger River. A decade later, he returned to Africa on an ill-fated second mission, this time sponsored by the British government. Though there were no survivors of this journey, Park and the last few members of his expedition were reported to have met their deaths while attempting to follow the Niger to its end. Kate Ferguson Marsters is Assistant Professor of English at Gannon University.

Mungo Park (1771–1805) was a Scottish explorer who, at the age of twenty-four, travelled alone to Africa in search of the Niger River. A decade later, he returned to Africa on an ill-fated second mission, this time sponsored by the British government. Though there were no survivors of this journey, Park and the last few members of his expedition were reported to have met their deaths while attempting to follow the Niger to its end. Kate Ferguson Marsters is Assistant Professor of English at Gannon University.

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