This title was first published in 2002. When did Africa emerge as a continent in the European mind? This book aims to trace the origins of the idea of Africa and its evolution in Renaissance thought. Particular attention is given to the relationship between the process of acquiring knowledge through travel and exploration, and its representation within a discourse which also includes previously acquired cosmographical elements. Among the themes investigated are: How did the image of Africa evolve from the conception of a symbolic space to a Euclidean representation? How did the Renaissance rediscovery of Antiquity interact with the Portuguese discoveries along the African coast? And once Africa was circumnavigated, how was the inner landmass depicted in the absence of first-hand knowledge? Also, overall, in this whole process what was the interplay of myth and reality?

Contents: Introduction; The African Puzzle: Canon and variations on the medieval ecumene; Marvels at the southern edge of the world; Prester John: the migration of a legend; The Limits of Symbolic Space: From Allegorical Geometry to a Figurative World: Displaying Ham’s territory; The impact of portolan charts; From the mirror of the ocean; Charting Euclidean Space: the Cartography of the Great Discoveries: Beyond the Pillars of Hercules; From mare clausum to mare liberum; Towards the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea; From the Form to the Contents: the Design of the Unknown: Ptolemy shifted, and yet the same; The Mountains of the Moon; The Great Central Lake; Conclusions: the Projection of the Renaissance Tradition; Bibliography; Index.