The Voyage of Semen Dezhnev in 1648: Bering's Precursor with Selected Documents

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Author: Fisher, Raymond H (1907-1994)

Year: 1981

Publisher: Hakluyt Society

Place: London


xiv+326 with 23 maps, 3 illustrations, bibliography and index. Octavo (8 3/4" x 5 1/2") issued in blue cloth with gilt lettering to spine and gilt sailing ship to front cover. Second Series, volume 159. First edition.

In 1736 Gerhard Muller, a member of the New Russian Academy of Sciences, while gathering historical materials in Siberia, uncovered in Yakutsk reports briefly describing a voyage in 1648 from the Arctic river, Kolyma, around a great rocky promontory to a point south of the Pacific river, Anadyr'. The reports where those of Semen Dezhnev, leader of the expedition and one of its 26 survivors. They gave very few details about the voyage, but said enough to lead Muller to conclude that it demonstrated the separation of Asia and America, a matter insufficiently determined in 1728 by Vitus Bering. Muller published an account of the voyage in 1758 and it aroused considerable interest, for it answered the long-standing question of the geographical relation between Asia and America, and became a factor in the sending to the north Pacific of Captain Cook to look for a northwest or northeast passage between Europe and the Pacific. Interest in the voyage declined after Cook's time and did not revive until the end of the next century when new material was discover in the Russian archives. That and the frontal attack in 1914 on the evidence for the voyage and Muller's conclusion from it by the American historian, Frank A Golder, led in time especially after World War II, to a more extensive examination of it by Soviet scholars and to the uncovering of new materials relating to it. Unfortunately these materials add very few details about the voyage, but they do provide information about the setting and circumstances in which it took place, its antecedents and aftermath, and led to a more searching probing of the episode. All of this justifies a drawing together and critical examination of the relevant documents and studies made of the voyage into a single and balanced treatment of it and its participants, on the bias of which a judicious conclusion may be drawn as to its actuality and its significance.


Jacket has some rubbing at points else a very good to fine copy in like jacket.

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