Richard Hakluyt Criticism - Essay

Virginia Woolf (essay date 1925)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Elizabethan Lumber Room," in Collected Essays, Vol. I. Harourt, Brace & Company, 1966, pp. 46-53.

[Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an influential modern British novelist and essayist associated with the Bloomsbury Group. In the following review essay, originally published in The Common Reader (1925), Woolf detects Hakluyt's influence on the English language, arguing that the "extravagance" and "hyperbole" of Elizabethan literature stems from the Elizabethan passion for discovery that was promoted by Hakluyt's publications.]

These magnificent volumes [Hakluyt's Voyages] are not often, perhaps, read through. Part of their charm consists in...

(The entire section is 3146 words.)

Clennell Wilkinson (essay date 1927)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Hakluyt," in The London Mercury, Vol. XVII, No. 97, November, 1927, pp. 62-9.

[In the following laudatory essay, Wilkinson provides an overview of Hakluyt's life and work and considers his qualities as an editor. Wilkinson suggests that the strength of The Principal Voyages lies in Hakluyt's artless editing and his skill at finding the romance in true stories.]

I think it was Mr. Hilaire Belloc who once divided funny stories into two classes—those which are funny simply because they are funny, and those which are funny because they are true. He might have gone further and applied his theory to stories of all sorts. Even then he would not have reached...

(The entire section is 4093 words.)

James A. Williamson (essay date 1928)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An introduction to Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages, by George Bruner Parks, edited by James A. Williamson, American Geographical Society, 1928, pp. xi-xvii.

[In the following excerpt, Williamson places Hakluyt's English Voyages in a historical context. Williamson considers Hakluyt the major historian of Elizabethan colonial expansion, and finds in his work crucial evidence of the "ideas and outlook of the Elizabethans. "]

The Elizabethan age was not spacious, as we are sometimes told, but narrow and needy. It was a time of industrious study of man and nature as well as of books, and its adventures were undertaken not from swashbuckling zest but...

(The entire section is 2808 words.)

James A. Williamson (essay date 1946)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Richard Hakluyt," in Richard Hakluyt & His Successors: A Volume Issued to Commemorate the Centenary of the Hakluyt Society, edited by Edward Lynam, The Hakluyt Society, 1946, pp. 9-46.

[In the following excerpt, Williamson describes the conditions that prompted English maritime expansion and considers Hakluyt's role as a publicist and "master mind" behind Elizabethan colonial enterprise.]

That Hakluyt was consciously a publicist and a historian as well as a geographer may be seen from his own words. In his dedication of a publication to Raleigh in 1587 he remarks that 'geography is the eye of history', in a context which leaves no doubt that history is the...

(The entire section is 3530 words.)

W. Nelson Francis (essay date 1955)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Hakluyt's Voyages: An Epic of Discovery," in The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, Vol. XII, No. 3, July, 1955, pp. 447-55.

[In the following essay, Francis notes the commercial and patriotic origins of English seafaring in the late sixteenth century. Providing a brief sketch of a typical voyage from The Principal Voyages, Francis praises Hakluyt's restrained editorial style and his industrious scholarship.]

In an age when tales of strange voyages are reasserting their age-old fascination, when any strange craft from Heyerdahl's primitive balsa raft to Beebe's super-scientific bathysphere is almost sure to produce a best seller, an older...

(The entire section is 3701 words.)

Christopher Hill (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Ralegh—Science, History, and Politics," in Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1965, pp. 154-62.

[Hill is an important Marxist historian whose work focuses on the English Civil War. In the following excerpt, Hill considers Hakluyt's work as publicist and foreign policy propagandist for Sir Walter Ralegh.]

Ralegh's foreign policy was not his private affair, but was the policy of a whole group, whose main publicists were the two Richard Hakluyts. Ralegh was intimately connected with them. The younger Hakluyt's Discourse of Western Planting was written in 1584 'at the request and direction of Ralegh', to whom...

(The entire section is 2290 words.)

David B. Quinn and Alison M. Quinn (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An introduction to Virginia Voyages from Hakluyt, edited by David B. Quinn and Alison M. Quinn, Oxford University Press, London, 1973, pp. vii-xvii.

[In the following essay, the critics provide an overview of Hakluyt's career and chronicle his involvement, along with that of Grenvilie and Ralegh, in the discovery and settlement of North America.]

(The entire section is 4782 words.)

Peter Vansittart (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Hakluyt's Emporium," in The Times Educational Supplement, No. 3404, September 25, 1981, p. 25.

[In the following review essay, Vansittart provides a vivid sampling of Hakluyt's narratives of discovery, and considers their place in the English literary tradition.]

Geographer, linguist, historian, Richard Hakluyt was also Archdeacon of Westminster, diplomat, and busy advocate of Elizabethan sea-power, overseas trade, colonial enterprise. Often considered chiefly as a maritime narrative … [Hakluyt's Voyages] is an anthology of both land and sea travels, from eye-witnesses of most varied classes, ranks, occupations, involving Raleigh (as author), Humphrey...

(The entire section is 986 words.)

Emily C. Bartels (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Imperialist Beginnings: Richard Hakluyt and the Construction of Africa," in Criticism, Vol. XXXIV, No. 4, Fall, 1992, pp. 517-38.

[In the following essay, Bartels provides a close textual analysis of the accounts of voyages to Africa in The Principal Navigations. With particular reference to descriptions of Moors and Negroes, Bartels detects and discusses an implicit "strategy of representation" in the narratives and in Hakluyt's editorial policy.]

In 1589, when Richard Hakluyt produced his first edition of the Principal Navigations, England was a long way from securing an empire or articulating an imperialist policy. Despite some forty years of...

(The entire section is 7503 words.)