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Before and after Columbus

Author(s): Peter Mason

Journal: New West Indian Guide
ISSN 1382-2373

Volume: 68;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 309;
Date: 1994;
Original page

Keywords: Caribbean | Europe | Italian | Conquest | discovery and exploration | colonial history | book review

[First paragraph] Columbus and the Ends of the Earth: Europe's Prophetic Rhetoric As Conquering Ideology. DJELAL KADIR. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. xiv + 256 pp. (Cloth US$ 30.00) The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus. VALERIE IJ. FLINT. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. xx + 233 pp. (Cloth US$ 30.00) Terra Cognita: The Mental Discovery of America. EVIATAR ZERUBAVEL. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992. xiv + 164 pp. (Cloth US$ 17.00) Imagining the World: Mythical Belief versus Reality in Global Encounters. O.R. DATHORNE. Westport CT: Bergin & Garvey, 1994. x + 241 pp. (Cloth US$ 49.95) Three of the books under review were published in 1992, and each of them approaches the significance of Columbus's landfall 500 years earlier in a different way. What they have in common, as their titles and subtitles indicate, is that they all purport to be about a mental framework - an "imaginative landscape" (Flint), a "mental discovery" (Zerubavel), "Europe's prophetic rhetoric as conquering ideology" (Kadir), or "imagining the world" (Dathorne). The 1992 commemoration led to a flood of books on Columbus and on the discovery of America. Now that the commotion has died down, it becomes easier to separate the wheat from the chaff, to distinguish between occasional publications hastily put together for the occasion, and solid contributions to scholarship which, while never immune to their own times, may be expected to retain a value that is more than temporary.
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