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» » Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa
Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa


Kate Ferguson Marsters,Mungo Park


Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa



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Duke University Press Books (August 30, 2000)




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Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa by Kate Ferguson Marsters,Mungo Park

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.
This is the most scholarly edition available right now. The Wordsworth is solid as an informative read, but for a scholarly assembled, edited, and annotated one, this is the way to go. That is, if you're not looking for an original first edition version for your own textual analysis. This is utterly the wrong choice for that kind of work, as the original has been significantly doctored here. That said, this is a superb edition, and for scholarly purposes, you'd want to go with this one along with an ILL or Gutenburg original scan/digitization.
I have just finished reading the Kindle version of this book, and found it fascinating reading. Mr. Park is an amazing explorer. The story of his initial adventures is amazing and humbling. He really was a persistent guy!

Worth reading for the insights to slavery as it existed in those days, as well as traveling both as a priveleged white man and later as a fugitive.

The Kindle version works well and was cheap. I doubt I could have found this book readable or affordable in its initial form.
Especially interesting regarding slave trade and tribal structures.
Billy Granson
Kate Ferguson Marsters' edition of Mungo Park's TRAVELS is an excellent example of the travel narrative - easily comparable with the Journals of Lewis & Clark or Francis Parkman's OREGON TRAIL. The book is broken into three parts: Park's travel narrative , Marsters' Introduction & Major Rennell's Geographical Illustrations Of Mr. Park's Journey (which is rather dry and dated).
The main work is a narrative of Park's travels from Barra, on the West African coast, to the town of Silla, just west of Jenne and his return to the western coast. Park provides many interesting details and asides, including that of Mumbo Jumbo (also mentioned by Francis Moore) for disciplining wayward wives. Park also spends a fair amount of time explaining local governments and social norms. Throughout, the account attempts some degree of neutrality while noting acts of kindness and avarice by various individuals and rulers; although, not surprisingly, he explicitly criticizes the Moors who continually interfered with his progress and those who robbed and stripped him. Perhaps his most disturbing account is of the female slave who becomes too sick to continue traveling with the coffle. The entire work puts black slaves and their families in a very sympathetic light and shows the slave trade at its worst; although, due to the continuing conditions of slavery and internal conquest pre-dating major European involvement in the trade, Park stated that the termination of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would not provide as great a benefit to the populace in Africa as many hoped.
The Introduction is important in providing the history of Park's early years, the important role of the African Association and its leader, Sir Joseph Banks. More importantly the Introduction deals with the Bryan Edwards controversy. Richard Burton and Orlando Patterson's criticisms have held that internal African slavery and slave trading was not nearly so prevalent as suggested by Park. In light of this, Marsters' statement that Joseph Banks, a critic of slavery, had to approve every piece of Edward's editing becomes extremely important. In addition, it is made clear that the reason for the stylistic differences is that the original TRAVELS was a book derived from Park's notes whereas the published work of his second, ill-fated journey was merely a compilation of those notes retrieved from the dead man's party!
All-in-all, an excellent and informative read!
Mungo Park (1771-1806?) was the first European to visit the Niger River basin in 1796. He resolved, once and for all, a debate that had European cartographers and geographers confused for centuries.
His initial journey (1795-1797) was a tale of tremendous personal hardship and suffering, but triumph in the end. After returning to Scotland in 1798, he became acquainted with Sir Walter Scott. They became close friends, and it was Sir Walter Scott who convinced him to return to Africa to encover the secret of the mouth of the Niger River.
In 1805 he convinced the British government, in the middlle of a war against Napoleon, to send another expedition to seek out the mouth of the Niger. With 100 officers and men he set out, retracing his earlier steps. The journey was filled with personal tragedy and heroism. After arriving on the Niger, he built a boat, named the Joliba, and travelled down the river. During the course of his journey he met and traded with the many kingdoms that lined the river. However, he also incurred the wrath of many local kings and chiefs who believed that he was cheating them.
Near the town of Bussa (now covered by a huge dam), Mungo Park met his unexpected end. For many years it has been assumed that he was attacked by hostile natives seeking to rob him. In fact it may have been due to the fact that he just failed to navigate the river
great read my top 10
Impala Frozen
This book is not too bad, but it would have been better if its author and editor were frank with their "facts".
Mungo Park, an inquisitive Scottish doctor and explorer, displayed a lot of courage in his adventures. He was steadfast and result-oriented. However, it is wrong for anybody to assume that he discovered the 'Nile of the Negroes', (as the River Niger was then called). The indigenous Africans who lived by the river banks knew its course long before Mungo Park's forefathers were born. They showed the Scot the way!
Thus, claiming that Dr. Park discovered River Niger is absurd. It is as ridiculous as claiming that the first African who sailed across River Thames discovered the English river.

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