Historia natural, civil y geográfica de las naciones situadaes en las riveras del Rio Orinoco

Joseph Gumilla

Can a river be enlightened? The Spanish Jesuit José Gumilla certainly thought so. When he published his Orinoco ilustrado in 1741, he explained that history was not only be a “witness to the present” but also a “light” for all posterity. A thirty-year resident of the Jesuit missions in northern South American, Gumilla organized his account of the Orinoco by creating a natural, civil, and geographical history that echoed the classic New World chronicles of his sixteenth-century forebears (especially the Jesuit José de Acosta). This third Barcelona edition, published some 50 years later, contains plates that highlight the customs and characters of the native peoples of the Orinoco region (and references to China and areas in the East as well).

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