From Imagination to Inquiry

The Discourse of “Discovery” in Early English Writings on India

in Volume 12 (2011): Issue 2 (Dec 2011)

This article unravels a discourse of discovery in early English writings on India, suggesting that this discourse works through three stages. The first stage constructs a fantasy of discovery about India even before the Englishman's arrival in the country. This demanded a representation of Indian wonders and the wondrous geographical-physical expansion of England into the distant reaches of the known world. In the second stage a narrative organization of the "discoveries" of Indian wealth and variety was achieved through the deployment of three dominant rhetorical modes—visuality, wonder, and danger. In the final stage the Englishman meticulously documented but also sought to explain the discoveries in the narrative form of the "inquiry." The "inquiry" shifted the discourse from that of India as a wondrous space to India as knowable and therefore manageable one. The sense of wonder modulates into a more organized negotiation, as a quest for specific information and as means of providing this information.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

in Volume 12 (2011): Issue 2 (Dec 2011)

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