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  • ISBN: 9780252018664
  • ISBN10: 0252018664

The Double Reckoning of Christopher Columbus, 3 August-12 October 1492: Poems

by Hyett, Barbara Helfgott

  • List Price: $19.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publish date: 12/01/2004
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Discoverer or conqueror? Hero or villain? Christopher Columbus was neither of the latter, and probably both of the former. Whatever else is true of history's most famous seaman, according to Barbara Helfgott Hyett, he remains an enigma, a figure of major historical importance whose very birthplace, ethnic heritage, and physical appearance remain matters on which scholars disagree. Intrigued by the mystery that still surrounds Columbus, Hyett has written 47 poems that enlarge on the entries in his Diario, the journal he presented to Ferdinand and Isabela of Spain on his return from what he called the "First Voyage of Discovery". Prefacing each poem with an excerpt from this journal, Hyett provides her own "double reckoning". Endnotes explain some of the historical details in the record. She finds Columbus was a gifted seaman, but unable to rise above his own vanity or the racism and territorialism of his era. In light of the encounter between the Europeans and the native population and the subsequent genocide of the Arawak people, she does not celebrate the "discovery" but explores, instead, the meaning and ethical paradox of such events. The Double Reckoning of Christopher Columbus is steeped in research. Hyett bases her impressions on two recent translations of Columbus's diary, her studies of medieval science and of all of the books Columbus read, and on her own investigations in Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. Hyett's first book, In Evidence: Poems of the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps (1986), was critically acclaimed for its historical and sociological insight. In the present volume, Hyett hopes to cast a new light on the explorer whose ultimate quest remains amystery.
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