Page of

Pacific Nightmares

Pacific Nightmares

(p.75) 3 Pacific Nightmares
The Indies of the Setting Sun
Ricardo Padrón
University of Chicago Press

Magellan’s discovery that the distance from the New World to the Spice Islands was much greater than anyone had expected it to be is often identified as a crucial turning point in the ongoing invention of America as a continent separate and different from Asia. This chapter examines how Antonio Pigafetta’s narrative of the first circumnavigation of the Earth invented the Pacific as a vast, empty space that separated America from Asia, and how the Spanish crown responded to Magellan’s invention with ideologically-charged maps and narratives that minimized the potential implications posed by the breadth of the South Sea (i.e., the Pacific) for physical and human geography, as well as for the perceived viability of transpacific imperialism on the part of Spain. These narratives nevertheless reveal some of the anxieties at work in this imperfect effort to contain the broad Pacific within the narrow confines of a largely imaginary South Sea.

Keywords:   Ferdinand Magellan, Antonio Pigafetta, Maximilianus Transylvanus, Peter Martyr, Diogo Ribeiro

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice