Travels in Europe, Africa, and Asia made between the years 1770 and 1779, Vol. IV.

Travels in Europe, Africa, and Asia made between the years 1770 and 1779, Vol. IV, containing travels in the empire of Japan and in the islands of Java and Ceylon together with the voyage home.

3rd ed., Charles Peter Thunberg. Printed for F. and C. Rivington and sold by W. Richardson, Cornhill, and T. Egerton, Whitehall, 1796. Layton Collection 12650

  • Swedish born pupil and “apostle” of Linnaeus, Thunberg was dispatched by the Aldermen of Leiden to collect exotic plant specimens for the city’s then new, but spartan, botanical gardens. Choosing the little known plant assemblages of South Africa, Japan and the East Indies as his source of specimens, there followed a celebrated nine year trip in the 1770s, which earned him the title of “the father of South African and Japanese botany”.
  • Captured within his account of the journey, is not only his fascination and love of the plants he encountered, but the keen eye of a bright and inquisitive mind. Most famous of all are his descriptions of Japan: its exquisite lacquerware, the penchant of both sexes for smoking excessively and the “grotesqueness” of their gods - made all the more seductive to the Western reader by their near uniqueness – Japan had, at the time, been closed to foreigners for nearly fifty years and Thunberg was only able to gain his privileged access through his sanguine charm and his ability to treat the locals for syphilis.

 

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