Curious Fame: The Literary Relevance of Alexander Mackenzie Reconsidered


This article ponders the question of why the historic transcontinental expeditions of Alexander Mackenzie, as described in his Voyages from Montreal (1801), appear to have made little impact on the imaginative writing of the period despite the well-documented appeal of travel literature as source-material to authors of poetry and fiction. Utilising the insights of quantitative book history, and undertaking a thorough analysis of reviews and other evidence of contemporary reception, the article reassesses Mackenzie's place in the literary market and establishes that the short-term interest of his book lay in useful information and "curious"€ observations, rather than any ability to expand the mind.

This article “Curious Fame: The Literary Relevance of Alexander Mackenzie Reconsidered” originally appeared in Canada Reads. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 193 (Summer 2007): 54-73.

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