‘He’s constantly demonstrating that the natural world is as splendiferous as any fable.’ – Jim Shepard, New York Times
‘From Plato’s Atlantis to Dante’s Mount Purgatory, Sinbad the Sailor to Abel Tasman, travellers, writers, map-makers, charlatans and rogues dreamed of other worlds at the back of the sun.’ – AUP
The antipodes existed in the imagination of Europe far before it ever became a tangible reality. Whether it was simply as a mineral resource to be plundered or as a soon-to-be-settled paradise used to pacify civil rebellion in feudal European states, the great downunder was a often a stand-in for the exotic ‘other’ in the mind of travellers and politicians many parts of the globe.
Martin Edmond’s essay writing explores every evocative facet of this reality – from Gilgamesh, seeking immortality on the other side of the Waters of Death, and Ptolemy, inventing a Great South Land to balance the weight of northern-hemisphere continents. He traces the invention underlying truth in the tales of Marco Polo and the equivocal John Mandeville; and the fact underlying fiction in Thomas More’s Utopia. ‘Along the way he wonders if Tasman’s dour puritanical character is somehow mirrored in aspects of the New Zealand psyche – and if the Australasian character might resemble that of the ‘old pyrating dog’ and three-times circumnavigator William Dampier, a compelling insouciant larrikin and freedom-monger.’
Fascinating for New Zealanders with an interest in their anthropological origins and intrepid armchair-travellers alike.