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The Accidentally Mysterious Dr Livingstone [May. 10th, 2011|01:35 pm]
Warren Ellis

Another brilliant piece from Jess Nevins at io9, about the famous traveller David Livingstone, and the way the media filled the holes in an informationally-primitive world:


Most of us are familiar to a limited degree with the story of Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873): his disappearance, his October, 1871 discovery in Ujiji, Tanzania, by Henry Stanley (1841-1904), and Stanley’s greeting to Livingstone: "Dr. Livingstone, I believe?" Even if the latter phrase is a post-facto invention by Stanley, an inveterate publicizer whose personal demons drove him to continually reinvent his life, the facts of the story — Livingstone, missing for six years, Stanley trekking eight months across 7000 miles of African tropical forest to find him — are impressive enough to deserve the status of cultural touchstone that they have achieved.

However, some of the details of Dr. Livingstone’s disappearance, and the reaction to it of his contemporaries, hint at how very different the cultural milieu of the 1870s were from the present era’s…

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