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The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763$
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Paul W. Mapp

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833957

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838945_Mapp

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Communication and Interpretation

Communication and Interpretation

(p.194) 7 Communication and Interpretation
The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763

Paul W. Mapp

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how eighteenth-century French surveyors triangulated their way across France and China. A French geographer trod the forests of Siberia and sailed the waters of the North Pacific. His brother collected in Saint Petersburg and dispatched to Paris maps of an empire spanning the world's largest continent. French cartographers produced maps of stunning clarity and precision revealing not only the heart of Gaul but also the reaches of “Tartary.” In North America, in contrast, travel-weary explorers found their westward progress checked short of the South Sea; and, in France, bewigged cartographers pondered western rivers and inland seas whose existence they suspected and imagined but could not confirm. French achievements in one hemisphere called for an explanation of French disappointments in the other.

Keywords:   French surveyors, French geographer, French cartographers, Gaul, Tartary

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