Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe deals briefly with the main character’s clashes with the cannibals that live on a nearby island.

The word cannibalism goes back to Columbus who wrote that the inhabitants of an island were afraid of the “Caniba” (or “Canima”), the supposedly man-eating inhabitants of the neighboring island. The word Caniba changed in Spanish on the one hand to “Caribe”, referring to the inhabitants of the Caribbean coast, andto “Canibal” meaning a person who eats human flesh. In his report, however, Columbus describes the indigenous people he saw as simple and rather fearful, a hospitable and peaceful people who did not wear any clothes.

There are countless of other accounts from travelers of populations who practiced cannibalism. Many of them described horrifying rituals and practices that sc...

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