HUMBERTO E. ROBLES


The First Voyage around the World:
From Pigafetta to García Márquez

venient annis
saecula seris
, quibus Oceanus
vincula rerum laxet et ingens
pateat tellus Tethysque novos
detegat orbus nec sit terris
ultima Thule
.

— Seneca, Medea, 2.374-79

Antonio Pigafetta's account of the first voyage around the world ( 1519‐ 22) is of manifold significance. On the one hand, it is an allusive compendium of cartographic, historical, political, religious and economic components. On the other, it transcends its time and establishes itself as a primordial text that directly or indirectly has affected the interpretation of the New World by such varied authors as Peter Martyr, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Vico, De Pauw and others. Moreover, Pigafetta's relation of Magellan's voyage is equally germane to the understanding of apposite cultural and aesthetic concerns and practices evident among some distinguished contemporary Latin American writers, not the least of whom is Gabriel García Márquez.Thus envisaged, Pigafetta's text is not merely a document where one can examine the historical contact of early sixteenth‐ century Europe and a "wider world," but also one where the seeds of modern literary practices and conventions of Spanish America can be discerned.

____________________
From History of European Ideas 6, no. 4 ( 1985). © 1985 by Pergamon Press Ltd.

-183-

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