Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Memoir Monday and Happy Columbus Day... Or Indigenous People's Day!

Happy Columbus Day... or Indigenous People's Day! What?! People in Seattle and Minneapolis have decided to celebrate the people one the "other side" of that famous 1492 encounter. They will celebrate the people that were indigenous to the "new world" and their culture. When I was a child, we learned that Columbus discovered America in 1492... but then that wasn't exactly the case and the Indians that Columbus encountered didn't fare very well in the end.  But, whichever Holiday you celebrate, and 16 states don't celebrate Columbus Day at all, and South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day since 1990, Christopher Columbus is a man of legend. What do we really know about him? Laurence Bergreen wrote a biography, Columbus: The Four Voyages (I know, not a memoir) to enlighten us a bit on what really happened on that fateful voyage, and some of his other expeditions, to make his mark on history...

Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen... Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. These later voyages were even more adventurous, violent, and ambiguous, but they revealed Columbus’s uncanny sense of the sea, his mingled brilliance and delusion, and his superb navigational skills. In all these exploits he almost never lost a sailor. By their conclusion, however, Columbus was broken in body and spirit. If the first voyage illustrates the rewards of exploration, the latter voyages illustrate the tragic costs—political, moral, and economic. In rich detail Laurence Bergreen re-creates each of these adventures as well as the historical background of Columbus’s celebrated, controversial career. Written from the participants’ vivid perspectives, this breathtakingly dramatic account will be embraced by readers of Bergreen’s previous biographies of Marco Polo and Magellan and by fans of Nathaniel Philbrick, Simon Winchester, and Tony Horwitz.

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