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Transparency and Truth: Prefatory Material in Fictional and Non-Fictional Eighteenth-Century Travel Writing

Ruth Menzies et Sandhya Patel
p. 265-284

Résumés

Cette étude porte sur les paratextes, et plus précisément les préfaces, des récits de voyages du dix-huitième siècle. Nous proposons que ces préfaces deviennent, au fil du temps, des objets plus complexes et nous analysons ce processus en trois temps. La complexité formelle des préfaces semble s’accroitre et des éléments textuels et iconographiques de plus en plus sophistiqués sont progressivement intégrés dans ce matériel liminaire. Dans un deuxième temps, l’analyse aborde la question de la transparence discursive et la relation changeante entre genres, stylistique et vérité. Enfin, cette étude examine l’utilisation évolutive des performatifs dans les préfaces. Fondée sur un corpus comprenant des textes de fiction (Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels) et des textes non-fictionnels (récits de Dampier, Woodes Rogers, Shelvocke, Anson, Byron, Wallis, Cook), cette mise en parallèle ouvre des perspectives sur la fonction et l’évolution des préfaces et suggère en même temps de nouveaux liens entre les deux formes de récits.

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1According to Gerard Genette, paratextual material constitutes an intermediary zone where an introductory pre-text precedes the text proper. This paratext then, in Genette’s terms, is a privileged site of transition and transaction (8) where questions of reliability and veracity are addressed and debated. Authorial or editorial discursive practices attempt to influence readers’ reception of a work.

2Eighteenth-century travel literature lends itself particularly well to an analytical approach of this kind because both inventorial and invented accounts include substantial paratextual material. From the Renaissance onwards, travel writing grew in popularity throughout Europe. Its rise coincided with the public’s increasing dissatisfaction with existing genres such as the roman in France and the romance in Britain, and the consequent growing demand for realistic yet entertaining texts was met by the narratives of travellers like Robert Challe and William Dampier, as well as by a whole range of works whose veracity was more or less hard to establish: “some [were] recognizably ‘true,’ some apparently or obviously fabricated” (McKeon 101). As Bohls and Duncan argue, both factual and fictional travel narratives “have in common an enormous flexibility […] and [are] susceptible of a great variety of directions and paces” (21). This study will examine the aforementioned directions and paces in terms of the paratextual material attached to the two types of travel texts in question. In light of the links between them and our respective fields of research, that of imaginary voyages (Menzies) and that of authentic travel accounts (Patel), a comparative analysis may prove an enriching course of study. The undertaking is of course a vast one, encompassing numerous texts and a considerable span of years. It goes without saying that this brief paper can only provide a very incomplete glimpse into a particularly rich and complex object of analysis.

3In a survey of broadly representative travel writing, three salient aspects common to both fact and fiction come to the fore. Firstly, as the century progresses, the paratextual material itself tends to grow in complexity, the question being to what ends. In addition, these pre-texts seem to acquire a certain dynamics whereby prefaces engender responses and counter-responses of what could be termed a “judicial” character. Finally, the well-known truth/lie dichotomy related to affirmations of simple/elaborate stylistics may be understood as undergoing change, with the focus shifting from veracity of content to reliability of author. These three directions in the form and content of paratextual material all require extensive analysis, but only the first of these – that is to say the increasing complexity of the paratextual material – will be considered in this paper.

  • 1  In The Location of Culture 108-10, Homi Bhabha discusses the concept of discursive transparency wi (...)

4The question may be approached from three distinct perspectives. On a purely formal level, this paper will argue that the paratexts change over time to include increasingly sophisticated elements. The growing complexity of paratextual material is also represented by greater interconnections between stylistics and veracity or, to borrow Homi Bhabha’s terms, the focus on discursive transparency appears to gain ground.1 Finally, the paratextual material seems to progressively take a more multifarious approach to performatives (Maclean), which may be understood as framing the force of the message and the way in which the addresser advises, exhorts or commands the reader (Maclean 274).

5In this study the representative texts referred to above are, in the case of fictional travel writing, Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Gulliver’s Travels (1726). These two works are central to the evolution of fictional travel texts, as they both borrow tropes from authentic travel accounts – the first to mimetic ends and the second to satirical ones. The numerous editions of both works attest to their extraordinary popularity and longevity (Watt), bearing witness to the success of this strategy, and they will therefore constitute the fiction corpus.

  • 2 Alexander Zipper argues that readership of voyaging literature in the eighteenth century was nevert (...)
  • 3 In The Story of the Sea Voyage, Philip Edwards suggests that over two thousand voyage narratives we (...)
  • 4  This anonymous version contains no paratextual material at all.
  • 5  This choice of texts (from a wide variety) is based on publications which are often referred to by (...)

6Non-fictional accounts of eighteenth-century voyages were also immensely successful, not only like Defoe’s and Swift’s fictions, in terms of domestic popularity, but also as regards the advancement of exploration, colonial expansion and trade.2 The number of texts published was considerable as the manuscript journals and logs were reworked, rewritten and transcribed.3 The selection of broadly representative, widely read publications referred to in this paper includes buccaneer cum privateer William Dampier’s account of A New Voyage Around the World which appeared in print in 1697. Privateer Woodes Rogers (with whom Dampier travelled as a pilot) published his account, A Cruising Voyage around the World 1708-1711, in 1712. This text contains the Account of Alexander Selkirk’s Four years and Four months living alone in an Island which may very well have inspired Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Beaglehole). George Shelvocke’s A Voyage Around the World by Way of the Great South Sea 1791 to 1722 was printed in 1726. Some years later, in 1748, George Anson published his relation of a voyage across the South Seas and around the world, written not by himself but with his permission by Richard Walter. Beaglehole considers this voyage as the cornerstone of the subsequent British exploratory drive into the Pacific in search of the North West passage and Terra Australis Incognita (178). John Byron thus set off on a two-year voyage around the world in 1764, but the account was not published until 1964. Samuel Wallis followed immediately in his footsteps from 1766-1768. Wallis discovered Tahiti, yet his journal never appeared in its original form either. On Wallis’ return, Captain Cook set off on his soon-to-be legendary voyages of exploration around the world in 1768. The narrative of the first voyage (1768-71) is not referred to in this study as it was radically reworked and published in a much-decried compilation by John Hawkesworth. Sydney Parkinson, artist on board the Endeavour and employed by Joseph Banks, died on the voyage but his journal appeared posthumously, edited and printed by his brother Stanfield Parkinson. A third anonymous account was also published in 1771 but will not be referred to here.4 James Cook published the narrative of his second voyage (1772-1775) in 1777 which, along with those mentioned above, make up the series of the factual accounts which will be referred to in this study.5

Formal complexity

  • 6  The Norton edition contains only the title page, without the portrait.

7The paratexts to Defoe’s and Swift’s fictional travel accounts seem to multiply and increase in formal complexity, both in the short time that elapsed between the publication of the two works and also, in the case of Gulliver’s Travels, as new editions appeared. The preface to Robinson Crusoe (1719) contains a portrait of the fictional traveller, depicting him clad in goatskins, a sword at his belt, and bearing two muskets (Fig. 1):6

Fig. 1. D. Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Title page, 4th edition (1719)

Fig. 1. D. Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Title page, 4th edition (1719)

© The British Library Board (SFX 1sidyv3457c03e)

The title page presents the text as The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pirates. Written by Himself. With its temporal and geographical references, this extended title seems to incite the reader to consider Robinson Crusoe as a genuine person and traveller, a notion which the final line, crediting him with authorship of the text, apparently confirms.

8The paratextual material in Gulliver’s Travels is notably more intricate and unsettling. In the first Motte edition (1726) the work contains a portrait of a dignified Gulliver – rather at odds with the raging misanthrope depicted at the end of the work – which is inscribed with his age and place of residence (Redriff, now Rotherhithe in London, Fig. 2):

Fig. 2. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 1st imprint

Fig. 2. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 1st imprint

© The British Library Board (012614.a.52)

  • 7  Peter Wagner highlights “a movement towards ambiguity, for the original satirical context attacks (...)

A letter from “The Publisher to the Reader” is also included, and several extremely sketchy maps are spread throughout the narrative. By the second 1726 imprint, the paratext had already changed, with the pedestal now bearing a Latin inscription from Persius’ second Satire, alluding to the qualities worthy of acceptance by the gods (Fig. 3):7

Fig. 3. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 2nd imprint

Fig. 3. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 2nd imprint

© The British Library Board. (C.59.e.11)

  • 8  This portrait is depicted and analysed in Barchas, “Prefiguring genre.”
  • 9  This portrait is less well known than the others, but is also analysed by Barchas.
  • 10  With thanks to Caroline Montgomery from the NLI for her help in identifying the various portraits (...)

9The 1735 Faulkner collection of Swift’s Works includes a volume containing the Travels, in which the paratext has grown to include an unsigned “Advertisement” and a “Letter from Capt. Gulliver to his Cousin Sympson,” while the portrait in the octavo edition8 has been entirely altered to depict a more jaunty, travelworn individual, with a rakish neckerchief and unbuttoned coat. The inscription, this time from Horace, declares him, however, to be “Splendide Mendax” – (gloriously false/nobly untruthful), thus contradicting the portrait’s new realism. Interestingly, the duodecimo edition of the same text contains yet another portrait,9 with Gulliver’s last name misspelt and the traveller depicted as tanned, lined and clad in a visibly ragged coat (Fig. 4).10

Fig. 4. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Swift’s Works (Faulkner edition, 1735)

Fig. 4. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Swift’s Works (Faulkner edition, 1735)

Image reproduced with permission of the National Library of Ireland

10While issues of authenticity were clearly not the same in 1726, when the text was unknown and its author unidentified, as in 1735, when its inclusion in Swift’s Works made its authorship and fictionality obvious, the modifications made to the paratext nonetheless provide key insights into the way issues of reliability caused such material to echo and answer claims made at the time of publication and after. The first edition playfully presents the text as possibly authentic, with a wink to those who know otherwise, whereas the 1735 issues play with the question of Lemuel Gulliver’s identity and appearance, even though Swift’s authorship is now evident. While Defoe’s paratextual apparatus is relatively straightforward, providing the portait of Crusoe, a title page and a short preface, the full paratext of Gulliver’s Travels is in fact so complex that it cannot be explored fully here.

11The development in paratextual material noted in fictional travel accounts is also identifiable in the factual accounts of the non-fictional corpus. For example, the title pages become more detailed and informative. Dampier’s 1697 title page includes the title, a list of the places visited, a description of THEIR Soil, Rivers, Harbours, Plants, Fruits, Animals, and Inhabitants, THEIR, Cuftoms, Religion, Government, Trade, &c. (Fig. 5):11

Fig. 5. A New Voyage around the World, William Dampier, Title page (James Knapton, 1697)

Fig. 5. A New Voyage around the World, William Dampier, Title page (James Knapton, 1697)

ICMH, “Notre mémoire en ligne,” Canadiana.org

12In the 1712 title page of Rogers’ account, the title itself is more fully thematic than Dampier’s in that it includes the dates of the voyage, the name of the ship, the principal events as well as the status of the author, Captain and Commander in this case. In Rogers, the title also acquires a rhematic purpose in Genette’s terms (92-98): to “Voyage” are added the terms “Journal” and “Account.” Thus the descriptive function of the title is extended and becomes more complex, possibly aiming at an accrued seduction function (Genette 95) – perhaps in a context of competition from contemporaneous publications.

13Shelvocke’s 1726 title page includes an engraving depicting a scene from the Aeneid and a motto in Latin, which takes up almost a third of the page.12 Moreover, the title details not only dates and events, ship names and author’s status but also the commission and number of crew and great guns on board.

14As evoked above, the publication of Anson’s account in 1748 marked something of a turning point in the form and content of factual travel accounts. The title page breaks somewhat with the wealth of detail just mentioned, but the continuum in terms of the mise en scène of the navigator is consolidated as Anson’s name appears in bold type once, and a second time in a smaller font and in place of the earlier navigational and geographical elements.

  • 13  This version of the engraving, published in a 1784 compilation by John Coakley Lettsom, is availab (...)

15The recourse to portraits, which is rather at odds with the sobriety of Walter’s title page and the progress towards a more serious type of factual account, begins later in this corpus than in the fictional accounts referred to above. For example, Sydney Parkinson’s account published in 1773 opens with a portrait of the artist (Fig. 6).13

16Cook’s account of his second voyage also has on its opening page a head and shoulders view in half profile of the Captain. In the introduction to this paper, one of the trends which we have identified but which is not addressed here, suggests that there may have been a shift within paratextual material from a concern with content to a focus on authorial discourse. The development of figurative iconography in the factual accounts just outlined may well be evidence of this trend.

17The nature of the constitutive elements in the paratext as a whole (for example, dedication, preface, introduction, contents page, maps, and charts) also changes. Their number does not necessarily increase but their content becomes rather more weighted in terms of the politics and pragmatics of travel. Obviously, a detailed study including a greater number of factual accounts is required in order to confirm the trends described above, but this short analysis of title pages and later opening portraits seems, in keeping with the argument here, to indicate the growing complexity of paratextual material as the century progresses.

Fig. 6. James Newton, 1784 Sydney Parkinson

Fig. 6. James Newton, 1784 Sydney Parkinson

Newton, James, 1784 Sydney Parkinson, National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an980093. http://nla.gov.au/​nla.pic-an9800893-v

Discursive transparency

  • 14  George Forster uses the same line in his unofficial account of his voyage around the world.

18As concerns the second perspective, relating to questions regarding the parallels between stylistics and veracity, the postulate is that elaborate writing practices conceal truth and the transparency of authorial discourse. This concern with truth and style seems to become more pronounced as the decades pass. In his Preface of 1697 Dampier touches on the subject and briefly mentions his “plain” English and the truth and sincerity of the relation. In 1712 Rogers discusses the issue in more detail and even defines a truthful, simple stylistic genre – the Mariner’s Journal. In 1726 Shelvocke authors a rather atypical, virulent preface, nevertheless preceded by an elaborate frontispiece whose motto is a line from the Aeneid: "errabant, acti fatis, maria omnia circum" (wandering driven by the fates around all seas).14 Shelvocke aims at setting the record straight (establishing the authority of his account), and at being not only informative but also entertaining. This concern with honest amusement, as it were, developed over the years and even appeared later in the Admiralty’s instructions to Cook on his second voyage, which requested him to write an informative journal that would educate, but also entertain the reading public. In the posthumous relation of Cook’s third voyage by James King (1784), the paratextual introduction also stresses this aspect, though in rather ambiguous terms: Captain Cook, knowing before he sailed upon his last expedition, that it was expected from him to relate, as well as to execute, its operations, had taken care to prepare such a journal as might be made use of for publication. On the other hand, in 1748, Richard Walte, the author of Anson’s account, claims that though the “bulk” of the reading public cannot understand the intricacies of a mariner’s language, the “intelligent” part can:

And though the amusement expected in a narration of this kind, is doubtless one great source of this curiosity, and a strong incitement with the bulk of readers, yet the more intelligent part of mankind have always agreed, that from these relations, if faithfully executed, the more important purposes of navigation, commerce, and national interest may be greatly promoted.

Walter seems to be instituting what one might call a technology of travel which took shape over the decades but which is an approach to the question of discursive transparency initiated as early as 1694 by Tancred Robinson (FRS) in the preface to Narborough’s collection of Voyages to the South and North. Half a century later, the use of technical language which was not necessarily literary would begin to be considered not as concealing reality, but rather as allaying the readers’ fear of untruth, progressively becoming part and parcel of factual voyaging accounts.

  • 15  With thanks to Dr John McTague of St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, for sharing documentar (...)

19Issues of discursive transparency are also central to the fictional paratexts. The short preface to Robinson Crusoe claims that the text offers the reader both “Diversion” and “Instruction” (3), words which can be read as a direct allusion to Horace’s Ars Poetica, with its twin principle of utile dulce which so influenced classical authors, and thus as an indication of the fictional nature of the work. This is echoed in the preface to the second volume of Crusoe’s adventures, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), where the text is presented as “profitable and diverting” (n.p.).15

20The issue of discursive transparency is also raised within the paratext of Gulliver’s Travels, where repeated allusions are made to Gulliver’s “plain [and] simple style” (xxxii, xxxvii), as if to establish a correlation between stylistic simplicity and individual veracity. The claim that at times “the Author, after the manner of Travellers, is a little too circumstantial” (xxxvii) reveals a deep-seated mistrust of the detailed, meticulous data found in log books, which – as the text, with its satirical use of dates, names of vessels and other pseudo-factual details, shows – is no gauge of authenticity.

21The importance of discursive transparency is particularly clear in the letter from the “Publisher to the Reader” which was included from the very first Motte edition. The purported publisher, one Richard Sympson, apparently Gulliver’s cousin, plays the role of the supposedly neutral, disinterested party, stressing Gulliver’s honesty, describing the family’s origins and referring readers to a cemetery in Banbury where several tombs bearing the name Gulliver can be seen (there is in fact a plaque to this effect in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Banbury). Sympson is, however a flimsy guarantor of authenticity, only identified through his vague connection to Lemuel Gulliver “by the mother’s side” (xxxvii). This strategy relies upon a dubious circularity, whereby the individual supposed to establish the traveller’s existence is himself only verified through a vague family connection to the very man he is supposed to authenticate. Moreover, the editor’s name might well have reminded contemporary readers of William Symson, the author of A New Voyage to the East Indies, a fairly transparent piece of plagiarism published in 1715 (Frantz). Thus, had readers noted a link to an existing travel writer, it would in fact have called to mind a notorious travel liar, deepening suspicion as to the existence of Richard Sympson and, therefore, Lemuel Gulliver.

22Sympson’s remarks on Gulliver’s style are equally ambiguous: he states that the traveller’s account has “an Air of Truth” (xxxvii), a claim that might well be read as indicating that the text has no more than a veneer of honesty. In the preface to Robinson Crusoe, this is echoed by the statement that “[t]he Editor believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance of Fiction in it,” which merely reverses the rhetoric used in Swift’s Travels without increasing the persuasiveness of the argument. Furthermore, Sympson admits to having altered Gulliver’s text, excising “innumerable Passages relating to the Winds and Tides, as well as to the Variations and Bearings in the several Voyages; together with the minute Descriptions of the Management of the Ship in Storms, in the Style of Sailors: Likewise the Account of the Longitudes and Latitudes,” so as “to fit the Work as much as possible to the general Capacity of Readers” (xxxviii). The text is thus presented from the outset as having been doctored by a third party to comply with editorial aims, and Sympson’s statement that he has the original in his possession, should anyone wish to consult it, seems just another hollow claim. This impression is confirmed by Gulliver’s letter to his cousin in the 1735 Faulkner edition, where he complains bitterly that the publication was rushed, resulting in “a very loose and uncorrect Account of [his] Travels,” one marred by various errors, misspellings and other inaccuracies (xxxiii). The author’s vaunted “plain simple Style,” is clearly no guarantee of plain simple truth-telling. Indeed, Swift’s paratext and Gulliver’s Travels itself raise vital questions about the possibility and even desirability of discursive transparency.

23Thus, though the preoccupation with discursive transparency is recurrent, it changes in nature and becomes more complex over time. In fictional travel narratives, the question is part of the wider and highly complex interplay between truth and lies, reality and fiction, real worlds and imaginary ones, which is enacted within the texts. For authors of factual travel accounts, it seems that by the middle of the century entertainment had to be allied with affirmed expertise for the account to be considered transparent and thus legitimate.

Performatives

24Performatives may be understood as framing the force of the message and the way in which the addresser advises, exhorts or commands the reader (Maclean). In the paratextual context examined here, they acquire a rather more sophisticated structure over the century and become more closely linked to the literary aims of the authors. This is clear from the way in which Defoe’s paratextual material rather highlights the more factual aspects of the work and its practical, pedagogical applications, whereas Swift’s elaborate paratext introduces the complex layers of satirical discourse contained within the fictional travel account to come. In the preface to Robinson Crusoe, Defoe emphasises the “Publick” value to be drawn from the “Story of [a] private Man”, the “religious Application of Events to the Uses to which wise Men always apyly [sic] them (viz.) to the Instruction of others by this Example” (3). The preface thus anchors the text within the literary context of the period, predicting and precluding criticisms as to the possible futility of first-person fictional narratives (i.e. novels) by stating outright the work’s literary and moral values, encouraging readers to draw edifying lessons from its content while simultaneously promising them “Adventures,” “Wonders” and “Diversion” (3).

25Swift, on the other hand, employs a far more subtle and intricate mode of communication with his readers, exemplified by the contradictory and ambivalent presentation of his work in the paratext. Promoted initially in the Publisher’s address to the reader as “a better Entertainment to our young Noblemen, than the common Scribbles of Politicks and Party” (xxxvi), the Travels appear far less straightforward in the 1735 edition, as shown by Gulliver’s irate letter to Sympson. He claims to have been prevailed upon to publish his account in haste, and to have been placed in a position where, through editorial intervention, he appears to “say the thing that was not” (xxxiii). Though comprehensible, the Houyhnhnm term for lying must strike anyone who reads the prefaces before the narrative itself as most unorthodox, increasing the reader’s critical distance from the narrator. Gulliver further claims that he neither intended nor wished his account to be published, disagreeing wholeheartedly with the idea that it might achieve “publick Good” because he sees mankind as inherently incapable of any improvement whatsoever. This, he claims, is confirmed by the absence of any such effect “above six Months” (xxxiv) after publication. Gulliver also tellingly rails at the inaccuracies of the published text, particularly as concerns the apparently factual aspects of his “several Voyages and Returns.” He accuses the editor of “neither assigning [them] the true Year, or the True Month, or Day of the Month” (xxxv). The performatives within the paratext thus incite the reader to view all aspects of the narrative, but particularly those that might seem most factual and concrete (and therefore most transparent), with deep mistrust.

26In the non-fiction corpus which spans the first fifty years or so of the eighteenth-century, paratexts become increasingly subject to the politics of travel, progressively engaging with rhetorical means to elicit empathy on the part of the readers. At the turn of the century, Dampier is rather deferential and expresses few or no positions on ideology or raison d’État except the time-old idea of writing for one’s country’s advantage. Ten years later, Rogers, on the other hand, is prolific on the subjects and argues for strategic expansion and colonial settlement with, as the backdrop, the Spanish War of Succession (1701-14). There is no preface but an introduction to the South Sea Trade in which Rogers provides historical detail of the geopolitics of the period and writes: “I ought to beg pardon for meddling with politicks, which is none of my province; but having been on the spot, I think it a duty I owe” (xv). In comparison to Dampier, this approach is performative in that it attempts to convince an informed readership by adopting a strategy of arguments for and arguments against. Rogers lists three possible objections to his position and then goes on to deconstruct them in methodical, argumentative fashion.

27Similarly, in Walter’s later account of Anson’s voyage this focus on context or outward looking frame (Maclean) is also clear. Walter has recourse to other performative strategies in order to convince his readers of the soundness of his positions. He offers concerted advice on how to proceed in order to improve knowledge in general and of navigation in particular so as to better British prospects. He develops a series of recommendations (instruction in Geography and in the art of navigation, or the taking onboard of draughtsmen and artists) in dense prose, with little of the humility of Dampier.

28In Cook’s General Introduction to his second voyage, the performatives are just as active, for Cook begins and ends with an address to the reader in the conventional fashion. He thus works towards influencing the readers’ perception of the work, but he does so very indirectly as compared to the methods discussed above. His use of rhetoric is restrained (there are no debates, no lists or no advice) and he only uses citational paraphrase in order to consolidate his personal authority. Cook thus paraphrases official positions – those of the Admiralty and the Navy Board, Victualling Board and the Board of Longitude – and indicates his agreement with them. In terms of discursive transparency, the veracity of the account is no longer in question, for the authority of the navigator is vested in the institutions of his country. Thus there is no justification of the veracity or authenticity of his account as in Dampier, Rogers, Shelvocke or even Walter. The absence of false modesty or self-justification makes for a General Introduction which, divided into short paragraphs, is a clear, unemotional but informative history (or abstract, as Cook calls it) of exploration. This approach lends the text a guiding authority, and the subjective advising, commanding and exhorting disappears in favour of quiet, almost academic, influence. The short biographical note unabashedly and refreshingly underlines Cook’s trust in his ghostwriters, which strengthens rather than weakens his credibility. Conventionally though, he ends with an appeal to the public’s indulgence for his “want of ornament,” for he is nothing but a “plain man” (xxxiv). Thus, persuasive performatives take on authoritative and yet less obvious, more subtle forms as the century progresses, rendering the paratext largely more complex.

*

29This inevitably brief look at paratextual material brings to light trends common to both fictional and factual travel accounts. The increasing intricacy of such material within the former type of text may perhaps be viewed as arising from the ambiguous generic status of such works as Swift’s and Defoe’s, which is linked to the context of the emerging novel. The second aspect raised here, regarding issues of stylistic transparency, can also be seen as arising from travel writing’s preoccupations with historicity (McKeon 101), while reflecting growing concerns with issues of truth in early eighteenth-century fiction, which the performatives also explore through their approach to questions of literary function and trust. In factual voyage accounts, the growing complexity of paratextual material may in part constitute a response to the demands of what Anthony Payne calls a more “professional readership” (176) as the century drew to a close. Thus, accrued attention to the politics and pragmatics of travel, to a technology of travel and to less obtrusive but authoritative performatives, may be understood as necessary concessions as factual voyage journals began to serve a practical rather than literary purpose.

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Bibliographie

Primary sources

Anson, George. A Voyage Round the World in the Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV by George Anson, Commander in Chief of a Squadron of His Majesty’s Ships, Sent upon an Expedition to the South-Seas. Compiled From Papers and other Materials of the Right Honourable GEORGE Lord ANSON, and published under his Direction, By RICHARD WALTER, M. A. Chaplain of his Majesty’s Ship the Centurion, in that Expedition. London, 1748.

Cook, James. A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World Performed in His Majesty’s Ship the Resolution and Adventure in the Years 1772, 1773, 1774 and 1775. Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution. 3 vols. London: W. Strahan & T. Cadell, 1777.

Dampier, William. A new voyage round the world: describing particularly the isthmus of America, several coasts and islands in the West Indies, the Isles of Cape Verd, the passage by Terra del Fuego, the south sea coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico; the Isle of Guam, one of the Ladrones, Mindanao, and other Philippine and East India islands near Cambodia, China, Formosa, Luconia, Celebes, &c., New Holland, Sumatra, Nicobar Isles ; the Cape of Good Hope and Santa Hellena: their soil, rivers, harbours, plants, fruits, animals, and inhabitants: their customs, religion, government, trade, &c. by William Dampier. Illustrated with Particular maps and Draughts. London, 1697.

Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pirates. London: W. Taylor, 1719.

Defoe, Daniel. The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; Being the Second and Last Part of his life, and of the Strange Surprizing Accounts of his Travels Round Three Parts of the Globe. London: W. Taylor, 1719.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. 1719. Ed. Michael Shinagel. New York: Norton, 1994.

Parkinson, Sydney. A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas in His Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour faithfully transcribed from the papers of the late Sydney Parkinson, Draughtsman to Joseph Banks, Esq, on his late Expedition with Dr Solander, round the World, Embellished with Views and Designs delineated by the Author and engraved by capital Artists. London: Stanfield Parkinson, 1773.

Shelvocke, George. A Voyage round the World by the way of the Great South Sea Performed in the Years 1719, 20, 21 and 22 in the SPEEDWELL of London, of 24 Guns and 100 Men; (Under his Majesty’s Commission to cruize on the Spaniards in the late War with the Spanish Crown) till she was cast away on the Island of Juan Fernandes, in May 1720; and afterwards continu’d in the Recovery, the Jesus Maria, and Sacra Familia, etc. by Captain George Shelvocke, Commander of the Speedwell, Recovery, etc. in this Expedition. London, 1726.

Swift, Jonathan. Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. London: Benj. Mott, 1726.

Swift, Jonathan. Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. Vol. 3 of The Works. 4 vols. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1735.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. Ed. Paul Turner. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

Secondary sources

Barchas, Janine. “Prefiguring genre: frontispiece portraits from Gulliver’s Travels to Millenium Hall.” Studies in the Novel 30.2 (Summer 1998): 260-87.

Beaglehole, John. The Exploration of the Pacific. 1947. 3rd ed. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1966.

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.

Bohls, Elizabeth A., & Ian Duncan, eds. Travel Writing 1700-1830: An Anthology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005.

Edwards, Philip. The Story of the Sea Voyage: Sea Narratives in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.

Frantz, R. W. “Gulliver’s ‘Cousin Sympson’.” Huntington Library Quarterly 1.3 (April 38): 329-34.

Genette, Gérard. Seuils. Paris: Seuil, 1987.

Maclean, Marie. “Pretexts and Paratexts: The Art of the Peripheral.” New Literary History 22.2 (Spring 1991): 273-79.

McKeon, Michael. The Origins of the English Novel. 1987. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002.

Payne, Anthony. “The Publication and Readership of Voyage Journals in the Age of Vancouver.” Enlightenment and Exploration in the North Pacific 1741-1805. Ed. Stephen Haycox, James Barnett, & Caedmon Liburd. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1997. 176-86.

Wagner, Peter. Reading Iconotexts: From Swift to the French Revolution. London: Reaktion, 1995.

Watt, Ian. “Robinson Crusoe as a Myth.” Essays in Criticism (April 1951): 95-119.

Williams, Glyndwr. The Great South Sea: English Voyages and Encounters 1570-1750. New Haven: Yale UP, 1997.

Zipper, Alexander. Thresholds of Interpretation: Forms and Functions of Paratexts in English Narrative Literature of the Eighteenth Century. Saarbrüken: VDM Press, 2010.

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Notes

1  In The Location of Culture 108-10, Homi Bhabha discusses the concept of discursive transparency with reference to his corpus of colonial texts. The theoretical framework which he develops, though, may be of particular interest in this rather different context where questions of borderline expressions of authority (within the paratext) are addressed. Bhabha takes as his starting point Derrida’s concept of discursive transparency which produces “reality-effects” or the “effect of content.” This strategy of address (to the reader in this study) is understood as having as its objective the establishment of authority. This authority is put into effect by preparing the reader/subject to accept what is to come as the authoritative truth to which power is inevitably attached. Thus, in the sources in this study, reality-effects operate in order to convince the reader of the truth of the coming relation. Bhabha suggests that certain technologies of enlargement, reversal, editing and projection may indeed work towards “bring[ing] to light” the aforesaid discourse, rendering it (falsely) transparent and thus convincing.

2 Alexander Zipper argues that readership of voyaging literature in the eighteenth century was nevertheless limited, and thus the use of the terms “popularity” or “successful” requires caution (12).

3 In The Story of the Sea Voyage, Philip Edwards suggests that over two thousand voyage narratives were published in the eighteenth-century (2).

4  This anonymous version contains no paratextual material at all.

5  This choice of texts (from a wide variety) is based on publications which are often referred to by recognised scholars as being characteristic of the period. For example, Edwards in The Story of the Sea Voyage and Glyndwr Williams in The Great South Sea cite the above publications in their now classic surveys of travel accounts.

6  The Norton edition contains only the title page, without the portrait.

7  Peter Wagner highlights “a movement towards ambiguity, for the original satirical context attacks hypocrisy ; in the new context, however, under a (false) picture claiming authenticity, the Latin words confirm qualities that seem to be expressed in the portrait too” (56).

8  This portrait is depicted and analysed in Barchas, “Prefiguring genre.”

9  This portrait is less well known than the others, but is also analysed by Barchas.

10  With thanks to Caroline Montgomery from the NLI for her help in identifying the various portraits in different editions of Gulliver’s Travels.

11  This image is available at
<
http://eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.34672>
Last accessed 21November, 2012.

12 See
<
http://books.google.fr/books ?id =SGDQAAAAMAAJ& printsec =frontcover&hl =fr&source =gbs_ge_summary_r&cad =0#v =onepage&q&f =false>
Last accessed 4 January 2014.

13  This version of the engraving, published in a 1784 compilation by John Coakley Lettsom, is available at
<
http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an9800893-v>.
Last accessed 26 July, 2016.

14  George Forster uses the same line in his unofficial account of his voyage around the world.

15  With thanks to Dr John McTague of St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, for sharing documentary resources with a complete stranger.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. D. Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Title page, 4th edition (1719)
Crédits © The British Library Board (SFX 1sidyv3457c03e)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Titre Fig. 2. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 1st imprint
Crédits © The British Library Board (012614.a.52)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Titre Fig. 3. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, The Motte edition (1726), 2nd imprint
Crédits © The British Library Board. (C.59.e.11)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Fig. 4. J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Swift’s Works (Faulkner edition, 1735)
Crédits Image reproduced with permission of the National Library of Ireland
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,7M
Titre Fig. 5. A New Voyage around the World, William Dampier, Title page (James Knapton, 1697)
Crédits ICMH, “Notre mémoire en ligne,” Canadiana.org
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Titre Fig. 6. James Newton, 1784 Sydney Parkinson
Crédits Newton, James, 1784 Sydney Parkinson, National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an980093. http://nla.gov.au/​nla.pic-an9800893-v
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/531/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 75k
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Ruth Menzies et Sandhya Patel, « Transparency and Truth: Prefatory Material in Fictional and Non-Fictional Eighteenth-Century Travel Writing », XVII-XVIII, 70 | 2013, 265-284.

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Ruth Menzies et Sandhya Patel, « Transparency and Truth: Prefatory Material in Fictional and Non-Fictional Eighteenth-Century Travel Writing », XVII-XVIII [En ligne], 70 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 août 2016, consulté le 17 août 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/1718/531 ; DOI : 10.4000/1718.531

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Auteurs

Ruth Menzies

Université Aix-Marseille

Sandhya Patel

Université Blaise Pascal – Clermont-Ferrand 2

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