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Water Ralegh’s liquid narrative
The Discoverie of Guiana
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Readers of Sir Walter Ralegh's Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana (1596) expected solid gold, as did Ralegh himself during his voyage the previous year. The aquascape of Guiana infuses the Discoverie, combining linguistic and fluvial forms of liquidity. As Ralegh suggests, to have an island of one's own is also to paint, to draw upon, to create. Ralegh uses the anecdote to address the question between fiction and truth that haunts his History; and yet he describes conjectures in a tolerant, even amused tone. It is amusing to imagine Ralegh brushing up on his alchemy during the long voyage of 1595, but his chemical background proves more consequential when we take into account the Discoverie's composition. By ushering in the Travels, Ralegh demonstrates his larger endeavour in the Discoverie to blur the boundaries between fiction and fact.

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