Initialed notices were written by Stanley R. Ross and Wilber Chaffee.
Bibliographers, like editors, are often without honor among their colleagues. But a librarian with bibliographic publications to his credit is often widely acclaimed. This should be the case of the compiler of this volume who is librarian at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London. Mr. Naylor has listed 341 items with annotations and other useful and pertinent information. These he presents in chronological form (1800-1830, 1830-1870, and 1870-1900) with subtopical arrangement under each period: (a) general, (b) Rió de la Plata region, (c) Brazil, (d) West Coast, and (e) North. The books (pamphlets of 50 pages or less are omitted) deal only with South America, excluding the Guianas, and have originally appeared in English. The authors are British and United States travelers, except for 21 translated writers, and their accounts generally provide excellent primary source material for the student or the general reader.
It is trite to say that many nineteenth-century travel accounts were written to impress persons back home. But most records were made by astute observers, both men and women, who had done their “home work” before going abroad. They knew where they were going and where they had been, and they made an effort to understand what they saw and heard. Many writers were scientists on official trips. Some were clergy, others were military men or diplomats. The majority were curious by nature and eager to record impressions, whether biased or not, and some thought of themselves as “pioneer visitors” in strange lands. Frequently their nationalism prejudiced what they saw and did, but a surprising number took pride in being objective, although frequently not “color blind” when race problems were discussed.
If Mr. Naylor had had more assistance his list would undoubtedly have been more complete. In recent years I have been assembling, somewhat leisurely, a bibliography of travel accounts in English for the whole of Latin America. From Mr. Naylor’s South American items I have found some 67 references which I did not have. On the other hand, I have about 114 items which he does not have. This I hope is no criticism of either of us. But it does appear to indicate the validity of cooperation among scholars in preparing any bibliography of books, and especially travel books, so many of which, even in the nineteenth century, are illusive and some of which are either long lost or unidentifiable because they were written by persons who wished to remain anonymous. It is no wonder that omissions exist in any travel bibliography.
Mr. Naylor’s book is based on a thesis submitted in the School of Librarianship in University College London. It does credit to the author and to the School. Perhaps it is fortunate that computers are already at work in the bibliographical sector. But they will have trouble doing what Mr. Naylor has done. We should be grateful that he got ahead of them.