“Every day that I travel … is a page that I turn”: Reading and Observing in Eighteenth-Century Amazonia

Title“Every day that I travel … is a page that I turn”: Reading and Observing in Eighteenth-Century Amazonia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsSafier, N
JournalHuntington Library Quarterly
Volume70
Pagination103-128
ISBN Number0018-7895
Abstract

In this article Neil Safier reconstitutes the field libraries of the Portuguese ouvidor Francisco Xavier Ribeiro de Sampaio and the Luso-Brazilian naturalist Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira, seeking to understand how their experiences in the Amazon basin were shaped and molded by their reading practices. In Sampaio's manuscript travel log, the titles and scattered citations of printed texts provided a layer of depth and sophistication to a narrative account that relied primarily on firsthand observation and a bureaucratic process of territorial inspection. Ferreira's journal entries and manuscript reports depended far less than Sampaio's on text-based erudition as a tool for describing the natural products of the Amazon River and its tributaries. But the breadth of Ferreira's library belies the prevailing view of his strictly “empirical” scientific practices and provides an exemplary case for examining the bibliographical construction of travel and exploration through the Amazon region at the end of the eighteenth century.