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Almada, André Alvares d', fl. 1594, et al. / Brief treatise on the rivers of Guinea
Part I (1984)

Introduction [with maps],   pp. 1-12 ff.


Page 6

Texts, editions and translations


No manuscript of the account written by Almada himself is now extant.
According to a reliable contemporary source, an original manuscript,
dedicated to the Governors of Portugal and licenced by Bishop Pedro
Brandao of Cape Verde (references which indicate the 1590s), was still
extant c.1700. What we now have are single copies of each of two versions,
apparently an earlier and a later redaction, the copies in different
hands but neither of them Almada's. Neither copy is dated but it seems
that each was written not later than the early seventeenth century.
The two copies are here termed the Lisbon version (being MS FG/297 of the
Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon) and the Porto version (being MS 603 of the
Biblioteca Publica of Porto). The copy of the Lisbon version was written
in Lisbon. The title page of the Porto version gives the date of the
original account as 1594. Dates for the two redactions are not given,
but, in the final chapter, '12-13 years ago' of the Lisbon version becomes
in the Porto version '14 years ago', suggesting that the redactions are
not more than a very few years apart. Hence the account as we have it
can overall be dated 'c. 1595'. Differences between the two versions
are many, but only a few are substantial in terms of information supplied.
An abridgement, with a very few variants and additions (the latter in
updating footnotes), also not in Almada's hand, is extant in manuscript,
in a late seventeenth century copy, and has been judged by Teixeira da
Mota to date from c. 1596 and to be based on a version approximating to
the Porto version. The summary of material from the account printed by
Guerreiro in 1605 seems not to derive from the abridged version. However,
comprehensive and detailed comparison of the three manuscript versions
and the 1605 printed section, not undertaken by previous editors and
proposed to be done by Teixeira da Mota, remains to be undertaken.
The summary printed by Guerreiro in 1605 consists of the ethnographic
information throughout the account extracted and stitched together, with
very occasional additions and changes almost certainly from the hand
of an updating Jesuit (it may have been Father Barreira, after his
arrival in the Cape Verde Islands). The summary appears as part of the
Jesuit letters from the Cape Verde mission; there is no indication that
the material comes from an independent written source; therefore Almada
is not named. Apart from this summary, the account remained in manuscript
until 1733, when the abridged version was published (giving the author's
name wrongly, as 'Andre Goncalves d'Almada') : the publication seems to
have attracted very little attention. The full account was first
published in 1841, the editor printing an eighteenth century copy of the
Porto version and referring to the Lisbon version, yet making almost no
use of the latter. Two modern editions have appeared, both with texts
in modernized orthography. The 1946 edition follows the 1841 print of
the Porto version, but an appendix gives a number of variant passages
from the Lisbon version (in the original orthography). The 1964 edition
supplies a text transcribed direct from the manuscript of the Porto
version; and many, but not all, Lisbon variants in footnotes. Both
modern editions have useful introductions which include details of the
texts and previous editions, and from-which most of the information above
has been obtained. However they are 'editions' only in the sense that
they provide and discuss texts, both lacking fuller scholarly apparatus.
The 1946 edition has no Africanist annotation, the 1964 edition very
little - hence the need for a new edition.
The Portuguese text translated into English below was prepared by
and for Teixeira da Mota, in modern orthography, from transcriptions of


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