Isaak Iselin in Hawaiʻi, 1807

Cover of Iselin's own account in the published version of 1897.
Iselin, Isaac. Journal of a Trading Voyage Around the World, 1805–1808. New York: anon., 1897.

Intertextuality I – Comment

The respective styles of Vancouver and Iselin bear some resemblance: Not only is the vocabulary for weather phenomena, the ship's parts, the natural world and the «natives» similar, but it seems that the attention of the two authors is on the same topics. Given that Iselin's mother tongue was not English, it may be that he adapted some of the style and vocabulary for his accounts from the published accounts of fellow travellers. This was especially the case in his spelling of place–names and, indeed, in the general arrangement of the text as a diary.

A striking resemblance also exists regarding Iselin's descriptive eye. There is a marked emphasis on the geographic and ethnographic details of the visited lands, while remarks about life on board and the crew are scarce. Personal experiences and encounters are narrated at length, whereas personal feelings generally have no place in the narrative.

Another striking resemblance concerns the places visited on the voyages of Cook, Vancouver and Iselin. At times it seems that the voyage of the Maryland was a reenactment of the tours of their predecessors, with the earlier travelogues acting as a directions manual.

Iselin was clearly trying to write a text in the explorer genre. The prime mission of the Maryland, namely to make as big a profit as possible, has almost no place in the narrative.