Experiencing India: European Descriptions and Impressions, 1498-1898

ISBN 077276025X , 104 pages, $20.00 | Ref #7048

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The variety of European encounters with the Indian subcontinent, from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, was the theme of this exhibition. Two things developed in the fifteenth century that frame the start of the historical period. One was printing from movable type, introduced in Europe by Johann Gutenberg in the 1450s. The other was navigation, permitting the Portuguese Bartolomeu Diaz to sail into the Indian Ocean, around the southern tip of Africa, in 1488, and another Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama, to reach the shores of India in 1498, exactly five hundred years ago. The ensuing record of discovery and travel, as it unfolded, was published in early European printed books that have come to be highly prized by collectors and libraries. The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto is fortunate to possess a representative range of materials, principally in English, from these four centuries.The exhibition and catalogue were by Professor Willard G. Oxtoby, Comparative Study of Religion, Trinity College, University of Toronto. The catalogue won an Honourable Mention award from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Sections of the American Library Association.