The essay examines how Melville's “The Encantadas” reveals the colonial underpinnings of seemingly disinterested nineteenth-century natural history, particularly Darwin's The Voyage of the “Beagle.” Whereas Darwin's formulation of the Galapagos Islands grants readers dominion over exotic lands, Melville's slippery islands defy the classification-as-preparation-for-occupation scheme of texts like Darwin's.

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