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Rumeu de Armas has argued that Las Casas was working with an already-summarized version of the Columbian text, to which he then added his own commentary and corrections. This, of course, would make the Las Casas text at least twice removed from the original. An assimilated version of the Columbian texts, apparently derived from a somewhat different source than the one used by Las Casas, appears in Ferdinand Columbus's Vida del Almirante , which survived only in an Italian translation; the Spanish original was lost.

Toribio Motolinía's Books

The generous margins probably served to facilitate annotation as well as to highlight the notes themselves. A possible model or antecedent for Las Casas's treatment of the marginal commentary is the sixteenth-century Spanish practice of annotating official correspondence from the colonies to facilitate reading when the documents circulated through the Council of the Indies. The Council was apparently increasingly concerned precisely with the size of the margins of the documents it received, and legislation was passed at the end of the sixteenth century to ensure they be of generous proportions with respect to the main text; see Antonia M.

Las Casas himself appeared at various times before the Council and was undoubtedly familiar with documents similarly annotated. While the purpose of annotating documents at the Council was typically to summarize or record responses to specific petitions contained in the text, Las Casas adds evaluative and critical annotations to Columbus's texts.

Varela transcribes "entenderse" in contrast to Sanz's "estenderse. The encomienda placed a group of Indians under the control of a Spanish colonist. In exchange for religious instruction and tutoring in Spanish customs and language, the Indians were forced to work the mines and fields. Such was the remuneration Columbus himself claimed he would give to the captives he took during the first voyage.

The letter is transcribed verbatim, with the marginal notes, in the Historia de las Indias A translation of the complete version of the letter, based on the Raccolta edition, appears in Morison He argues that Ferdinand does an economic reading of the Columbian text, in contrast to Las Casas's missionary reading—an analysis that supports my argument here that Las Casas's rewriting of the Columbian texts subordinates the commercial dimension of Columbus's discourse in favor of its Christian dimension.

Cioranescu suggests that Las Casas's intended audience may have been only his fellow Dominicans at the convent in Santo Domingo. Given the scope, tone, and tenor of the text, this possibility seems highly improbable. Since Las Casas entrusted to the Dominicans the preservation of the manuscript and its publication, there is good reason to believe, as Cioranescu also suggests, that he hoped they would come to advocate his positions after his death. A notable exception is Mary B.

Campbell considers these texts to have been informed by the literary genre of the romance. See, for example, the works by these three authors listed in the bibliography. A similar notion is proposed by Michel de Certeau, who argues that stories constitute "symbolic languages of space" The Practice of Everyday Life , trans. Steven F. Rendall [Berkeley: University of California Press, ]. I prefer Carter's formulation here because of its greater specificity. De Certeau's argument that every story is a travel story—"a spatial practice"—erases what to my mind is a fundamental distinction between stories that are about journeys and those that are not.

The classical paradigm is the errant geography of Herodotus, the traveler-geographer of the fifth century B. Samuel Eliot Morison, quoting Franco Machado, reminds us that in the fifteenth-century Portuguese literature of exploration descobrir could mean any of the following: to find a land of whose existence one had previous knowledge, albeit vague or erroneous; to find a place not known to exist the predominant modern sense ; and to explore territory previously found Portuguese Voyages to America in the Fifteenth Century [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ], All these connotations, we may note, entail the acquisition of knowledge about a place initially constituted as an enigma.

Thus, in the literature of exploration to write about a place is to make known what was essentially unknown by inscribing it into the cultural discourses that render it familiar and thus "thinkable. The literature on the Discovery is dominated by discussion of what Columbus thought about his findings, whether he realized the land to be a "new world," and what that phrase actually meant in his day.

In contrast, I am concerned with the Discovery as it was written , and my essay proposes a reading, not the history of an idea. Thus, I will not be claiming that Columbus wrote about a destination known to him as some have argued but rather, and this is an essential distinction, that Columbian writing articulates the destination as if it were already known. Bakhtin holds that the chronotope is responsible for generating meaning, by defining the spatiotemporal characteristics of genre and thereby the conditions for process and event in the text.

Pierre d'Ailly's text and Columbus's marginal annotations are available in a bilingual Latin-French edition, Ymago Mundi , 3 vols. The copy owned by Columbus is preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina, in Seville. Samuel Y. Edgerton, Jr. For a general assessment of the influence of Ptolemy on Columbus, see George E. For an excellent summary of the development and significance of portolan cartography, see Yoko K. Various remarks in the Diario suggest that Columbus made or directed the making of several "cartas de navegar"; see, for example, the prologue to the Diario Varela, 17 , and the Diario entries for 25 September and 3 October Varela, 24, Several contemporaries of Columbus testified that they had seen a Columbian chart of the voyage to Paria on the South American mainland; among these witnesses was the navigator and cartographer Alonso de Hojeda, who captained the.

Juan de la Cosa served as pilot on Columbus's first and second voyages. For a reproduction of his map, see J. Evidence of Columbus's involvement in the cartographic trade is abundant. Oviedo, in the Historia general , explains that the Admiral had once made his living by drawing navigational charts bk. Ferdinand, in chap.

Las Casas also underscores Columbus's cartographic abilities, citing evidence found in the Columbian texts. Revelli refers to the eyewitness testimony of several contemporaries who had seen Columbus's portolan chart of the third voyage; see Revelli, Cristoforo Colombo , Alonso de Chaves y el libro IV de su "Espejo de navegantes ," ed. Cuesta, and P. O manuscrito "Valentim Fernandes ," ed. Garcie's text was not printed until the early S. David W. Waters describes it as "an outstanding piece of objective, factual, scientific writ-. Campbell notes an interesting contrast between the Columbian journal, which emphasizes the psychological aspects of description, and Marco Polo's account of his travels in the Far East a text Columbus read and annotated profusely , where description assumes an annunciatory form; see Campbell, The Witness and the Other World , Ca' da Mosto's account was first published in , Usodimare's not until It is unlikely that these early-sixteenth-century voyage narratives would have been influenced by the Diario or its source, which undoubtedly did not circulate for security reasons.

The Diario and the Historia de las Indias , which contained many and lengthy direct quotations from it, were not published until the nineteenth century. For a study of the tendency to temporalize spatial relationships in the development of scientific theories of space, see A. The temporalization of space was, of course, commonplace in historical writing, but it was clearly a new phenomenon in the nautical travel writings of the late-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. References to the Diario in Ferdinand's Vida del Almirante also confirm its filiation with the roteiro.

Campbell, The Witness and the Other World , It is just this distinction that compels me to disagree with Rocha Pinto's argument that simply the introduction of a strict chronology in nautical writings of the mid-sixteenth century constitutes a "temporalization of space" absent in earlier texts. Walter J. Ong reminds us that the earliest writing known, the cuneiform script of the Sumerians C. In contrast, the earliest written narratives are biblical texts, which, though also intended as records, are not fashioned as lists but as reconstitutions of coherent sequences of events.

Ong argues that narrative's origins are oral, unlike the list, which seems to have originated with writing; in-. His theory is supported by narrative's capacity, whether oral or written, to communicate events as the experience of those events. Whereas the list is a form of preserving information, narration, in establishing coherent relations among events, is a form of recording and of understanding experiences; see his Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word London: Methuen, , Las Casas worked with a copy of the original text.

His source is unclear, but in all likelihood he had access to a copy in the Columbus family archives Varela, xvi-xvii. The text is plagued with anachronistic interpolations, whether introduced by Las Casas or someone else is impossible to determine in the majority of cases. See two earlier essays in this volume, "This present year of " and "All these are the Admiral's exact words" for a discussion of this problem. The first mention of the existence of an autonomous daily pilot's log in diary form, according to Rocha Pinto A viagem , , is the testimony of an anonymous Portuguese pilot c.

Marica Milanesi [Torino: Giulio Einaudi Editore, ]; We Portuguese pilots keep a book in which we write daily about the voyage and the route, the winds we sail by, and the degrees of declination of the sun. Thus the anonymous Portuguese example hardly seems conclusive to establish the characteristics or dating of a new genre. Most likely the old Portuguese term livro a navegar referred to a type of text that shared many of the technical characteristics of the later diario de bordo. Rocha Pinto concludes that the systematic organization of navigation along chronological lines characteristic of the diario de bordo was a mid-sixteenth-century development.

Clearly, the evidence of Columbus's Diario either refutes this claim or, if Rocha Pinto is correct, must be considered an unprecedented innovation and an anomaly in the context of nautical literature. Perhaps a more plausible explanation for the apparent contradiction is that all the texts prior to the mid-sixteenth century that Rocha Pinto examined which did not keep a strict chronology of the navigation were concerned with the Indian voyages carried out by the Portuguese primarily in coastal waters and often within sight of land.

A systematic chronology. Unlike his Portuguese predecessors, of course, Columbus navigated in midocean, out of sight of land. Revelli noted the Diario 's uniqueness in this respect, calling it the earliest diario known to exist. Clearly, as Henige has observed, political expediency, not geographical accuracy, dictated this location; see Henige, In Search of Columbus , Pintar in this context means "to draw on a map or chart.

See "Reading Columbus," earlier in this volume. Prior to Rumeu's publication of the Libro Copiador in , the only known eyewitness accounts of the second voyage were those of Michele de Cuneo, an old friend of Columbus's, Guillermo Coma, a gentleman volunteer, and Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, the expedition's physician, who sailed with the fleet in The four relaciones from the second voyage are dated January , 20 April , 26 February , and 15 October For the text of the instructions to Columbus for the second and fourth voyages see Morison, and Clement R.

File history

Markham London: Hakluyt Society, , The latter resulted in the discovery of Brazil. One of the members of the Cabral crew, Pero Vaz de Caminha, described it to the king of Portugal in a letter dated 1 May The letter was written circa 18 October Hutchinson, "It goes without saying that places aren't inert physical shells, but localities of experience or of being where interaction not only 'takes place' but also 'makes place' " Cervantine Journeys , Dunn and Kelley have translated it as "when he came on the voyage of discovery" , but a more idiomatic translation would be ''when he came to discover.

Benjamin Keen Westport, Conn. Wilcomb E. Washburn is one of the few historians to acknowledge Columbus's extensive use of metaphor and appreciate its potential significance for the study of the meaning of "discovery. London: Hakluyt Society, For an appraisal of Cosmas's work, see C. An example of Columbus's use of negocio in its spiritual sense occurs in the Diario entry for 14 February. In the midst of a terrible storm, he consoles himself with the following thought:. And he writes here that, since earlier he had entrusted his destiny and all of his enterprise to God, Who had heard him and given him all he had asked for, he ought to believe that God would grant him the completion of what he had begun and would take him to safety.

Although the English translation does not reflect it, salvamento has the connotation of saving from physical peril as well as salvation in the spiritual sense. Such a phenomenon appears paradoxical to us because we have lost all sense of the immanence of the sacred so profoundly felt by people in the Middle Ages. Kirkpatrick Sale's recent popular assessment is especially shrill in its contention that Columbus was mad: "By the time he was ready to spell it [the discovery of the location of Paradise] out, in his summary letter to the Sovereigns two months later, it fairly exploded, page after page, in a very long and muddled mishmash of theology and astronomy and geography and fantastic lore, rambling, repetitive, illogical, confusing, at times inco-.

Only a reader unfamiliar with the medieval world view and its modes of discourse would be so bewildered by Columbus's assumption that Paradise lay in the vicinity of the Indies. Donald T. Gerace Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For a discussion of how flawed Columbus's calculations were deemed to be by most of his contemporaries see Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea , esp.

The parenthetical "says he" appears in the Spanish but was omitted without explanation by Dunn and Kelley from their translation. I have inserted it to avoid confusion. For Columbus's source on the location of Paradise, see Pierre d'Ailly, Ymago Mundi Louvain, or and the numerous annotations in Columbus's hand contained in the margins of his own copy of the text, preserved at the Biblioteca Colombina.

Henige demonstrates, through a rigorous and comprehensive examination of the text, that the Diario is riddled with lacunae, anomalies, and obvious computational errors in its recording of navigational data. Quadruplex sensus sacre Scripture aperte insinuatur in hac dictione: Ierusalem. The fourfold interpretation of Holy Scripture is clearly implicit in the word Jerusalem. In a historical sense, it is the earthly city to which pilgrims travel. Allegorically, it indicates the Church in the world. Tropologically, Jerusalem is the soul of every believer. Anagogically, the word means the Heavenly Jerusalem, the celestial fatherland and kingdom.

Among the most famous such voyages were those of St. Brendan and Owein. The book first appeared in the late fourteenth century. A long fragment of this diario corresponding to the period 30 May August survives in Las Casas's Historia chaps. Olschki, , After this essay was completed, a translation of a research proposal by Michel de Certeau, "Travel Narratives of the French in Brazil: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries," appeared in Representations 33 Winter Although de Certeau's subject matter is not Columbian, the methodology he outlines for studying these travel narratives as combinations of the "practices of scientific investigation and their figurations in a literary space-time" complements my approach.

It is regrettable that de Certeau did not live to bring his intriguing proposal to fruition. Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History , trans. Djelal Kadir's illuminating analysis of the language of the "Capitulaciones" underscores the proprietary and imperialistic motives the document described and authorized; see Columbus and the Ends of the Earth: Europe's Prophetic Rhetoric as Conquering Ideology Berkeley: University of California Press, , especially Rumeu speculates that the vagueness of the references to Columbus's destination in the "Capitulaciones" and other prediscovery documents may have been the product of a conscious and deliberate attempt by Isabella and Ferdinand to thwart the possibility of rival expeditions by other European monarchies.

I have used Las Casas's version of the text of the "Capitulaciones" which appears in volume I, chapter 33 of the Historia de las Indias. The original document, in Spanish and signed by Isabella and Ferdinand, has disappeared, but four well-authenticated early copies are described by Jane For an English translation of the "Capitulaciones," see Jane, Quoted by J. The following passage, from Jane's translation of the "Capitulaciones," gives a sense of the flavor of that document:.

Your Highnesses appoint the said Don Christopher their Viceroy and Governor-General in all the said Islands and Mainlands which, as has been said, he may discover or acquire in the said Seas, and that for the Government of each and every one of them he may name three persons for each Office and that Your Highnesses may take and choose the one most suitable to your service, and thus the lands which Our Lord allows him to discover and acquire in the service of Your Highnesses will be better governed.

Paradise Lost on the Equator

Item, that of all the Merchandise whatsoever, whether Pearls, Precious Stones, Gold, Silver, Spiceries, and other Things and Merchandise of whatever kind, name, or description that may be, which may be bought, bartered, found, acquired, or obtained within the limits of the said Admiralty. Jane, In essence, this process is what my analysis will elucidate—that is, the terms in which the justification of the relationship of possession and domination mandated in the "Capitulaciones" is articulated in the Columbian texts.

Earlier, in the essay "In the Margins of Columbus," I view this phenomenon "from the margins" of the Diario , where Las Casas's criticisms of Columbus's cupidity render these passages antagonical components in a rhetoric of contraposition at the service of Las Casas's condemnation. Las Casas, in his edition of the Diario , often alternates between the first- and third-person narrative voices in these passages, but this is clearly his editorial manipulation.

Columbus's original text was undoubtedly narrated wholly from the first-person point of view.

And I bestirred myself this morning to see all of this, so that I could give an account of everything to Your Highnesses, and also to see where a fort could be made. And I saw a piece of land formed like an island, although it was not one, on which there were six houses. This piece of land might in two days be cut off to make an island, although I do not see this to be necessary since these people are very naive about weapons, as Your Highnesses will see from seven that I caused to be taken in order to carry them away to you and to learn our language and to return them.

Rare is the occasion when Columbus remarks on an unattractive Indian. When he does so, as on 13 January, he concludes that the man in question must be a cannibal. He had his face all stained with charcoal In the letter to the Crown dated 4 March an almost identical passage includes an additional element that the Indians lack, private property:.

Rumeu, All of them, women and men alike, go about naked like their mothers bore them, although some women wear a small piece of cotton or a patch of grass with which they cover themselves. They have neither iron nor weapons, except for canes on the end of which they place a thin sharp stick.

A. Voyages, exploration

Everything they make is done with stones [stone tools]. And I have not learned that any one of them has private property. The assertion that the Caribs are not very different from the other Indians, except for their long hair, does not mesh with an observation in the Diario that affirmed their considerable difference in appearance 13 January; Varela, The apparent contradiction can perhaps be explained by the context: that here the similarity between the more aggressive Caribs and the peaceable Arawaks is noted to establish Spanish superiority with respect to both groups.

Aristotle, Politics, bk. Richard McKeon. The medieval mind melded the Aristotelian notion with the Augustinian contribution that monstrosity found its justification in the Divine Plan, to marvel at the plurality of the universe and at the same time feel repulsed by difference as a marker of inferiority.

My translation, unlike Dunn and Kelley's , underscores the suggestion implicit in this passage that not carrying weapons worthy of the name is a function of the Indians' extreme cowardice. On the symbolism of gardens in classical and medieval literature, see A. Some scholars maintain that Columbus did not know Polo's account until he received a copy of it in from the Englishman John Day. The early Columbian texts strongly suggest, however, that the author was familiar with Polo's text, particularly with its geography, during the first and second voyages, as I argue below.


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Madrid: Alianza, Thanks to F. Provost for pointing out my oversight in the manuscript stage of this book. Polo stated that the Khan resided in Cambalic. The paradisiacal-erotic associations of Kinsai may explain, at least in part, Columbus's geographic confusion in substituting Kin-sai for Cambalic as the expressed destination of the voyage. In my reading, however, the idealizing and denigrating components are complementary operations in Columbus's interpretation of difference in a gender-specific mode. Structured data. Captions English Add a one-line explanation of what this file represents.

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