Simon Heffer

Speaker: Edward Wilson-Lee

Topic: The Renaissance Confronts the Orient: the One-eyed Pirate and the Humanist Encounter Sixteenth-century India and China

Venue: Ondaatje Lecture Theatre, Radcliffe Centre

Time: 10:30-11:30 Sunday 17 September

Talk Summary:

The age of discovery, which saw European navigators traverse the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, transformed the world and made it one. Among the most remarkable stories of this extraodinary period in human history are those of the little-known sixteenth-century Portuguese adventurers Damião de Góis and Luís de Camões, who were met with wonders on their arrival in India and China. Their experiences and encounters challenged longstanding European beliefs, and both the church authorities and secular powers created vast conspiracies to silence the questions that these explorers’ discoveries posed about the nature of history and of human life, as Edward Wilson-Lee reveals. 

EDWARD WILSON-LEE teaches early modern literature, Shakespeare, and medieval literature at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His recent books include a biography of the greatest book collector of the sixteenth century, who was also the illegitimate child of Christopher Columbus, and a study of archives and globalisation in the sixteenth century. His latest book is the critically acclaimed A History of Water: Being an Account of a Murder, an Epic, and Two Visions of a New World, which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Biography.