<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<La Educación<<La Educación (118) II, 1994<<Reseñas y Noticias Bibliográficas
Colección: La Educación
Número: (118) II
12. Margarita ZAMORA. Reading Columbus. Berkeley: University of California Press, Latin American Literature and Culture Series, 9, 1993, xvi, 247 p., appendix, notes, bibliography, index, illustrations. Cloth: $42.00. Paper: $18.00.
This work constitutes a collection of six essays that deal with Columbian writing at its historical stress points: they emphasize those aspects that have caused the greatest controversies among scholars of the Discovery. Rather than focus on the relation between the texts and the events to which they refer, the texts are approached as texts, and the mediated nature of reading and writing is emphasized. In other words, a text as well as readiness of that text appears within a particular context and certain circumstances. Zamora makes a clear distinction between two different ways of reading which differ in purpose and emphasis: One can read to understand the past or to understand how the stories of the past are told. What the author in the last analysis seeks to understand is the ways and the process whereby writings about the past makes it meaningful. In Reading Columbus, the introductory essay, Zamora poses the main problems that are presented in the reading of Columbian writing by analyzing the different written versions in which the discovery of America is announced to the European world and to the Catholic kings, and the changes that these versions suffered in the process of being made known. The following two essays, This Present Year of 1492 and All These Are the Admirals Exact Words, focus on the decisive role of Bartolome de Las Casas as a mediator in the dissemination of Columbuss writing, since it was he who copied, edited, and made comments on a significant number of them, so much so that many of the Columbian texts are known only in Las Casass version. In the following essay, In the Margins of Columbus, the annotations and comments that Las Casas wrote in the margins of Columbuss texts are examined to measure the effects that Las Casas had as a mediator in the transmission of Columbian writing. In the fifth essay, Voyage to Paradise, Zamora analyzes the intellectual discourse of the Discovery of America at the time of Columbus; that is, she examines the origins of the process of reasoning and argumentation that took place to conform to the intellectual framework of the idea and significance of the Discovery in the Columbian texts. Finally, in Gender and Discovery, the author tries to elucidate the process through which America is feminized, looking for that purpose into Columbuss contractual terms with the Spanish crown, the Capitulaciones de Santa Fe, as well as in Columbuss own concepts expressed in his writing about the new world. The appendix includes the original version written in Spanish of Columbuss letter to the Catholic kings of March 4, 1493, and its translation to English.
This book is of great interest for historians and Columbus scholars, as well as for those interested in the study, critique and literary analysis, not so much for its historical content, but rather because of the methodological propositions that are posed for the interpretation of a text and of the past.
M. Piedad Alliende