Todorov was a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher and literary theoretician. I always rate books based on how the book captured my attention. Broadly, the thesis is that the overwhelming majority of the Spaniards were not interested in seeing the natives as people possessing an equal portion. In fact, Todorov invokes the unimaginably horrible image of Catholic priests bashing Indian baby’s heads against rocks, allegedly to save them from damnation to hell, which their “savage” culture would have otherwise consigned them to. Both always ground their distance from the Indians in the latter’s distance from their own identity. Todorov uses exploration and discussion of primary writings (journal entries, letters, scholarly treatments) from the 1400 and 1500s to explore cultural differences and differences in worldview that allowed the Spanish, hugely outnumbered and in unfamiliar territory, to successfully conquer the Americas. Todorov creates a loose typology of forms of intercultural interaction through an examination of both major and more minor figures from the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The book offers an original interpretation of the Spaniards’ conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in … Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. This is a side of history that is seldom taught in textbooks, yet has become a classic in the field of Sociology and History. Even if Las Casas identifies the Indians with the Hebrews and the Spaniards with the Devil (Todorov 165-166), we can still see that everything is relative to his own Christian identity: “Las Casas is content to maintain an egocentric position with regard to time as well as space. The Conquest of America by Tzvetan Todorov. Generally, it was only the Spanish who had the interpreters and therefore an understanding of their opponent, which gave them a distinct military advantage. Consequently, Las Casas is able to justify colonization on spiritual grounds, and maintains that it should be carried out by priests instead of soldiers. by University of Oklahoma Press. We understand the conquest in terms of the leading edge of 16th century technology coming. When it comes to the topic of war, Valladolid debates between Sepulveda and Las Casas to gain insight into some of the questions facing just war theorists today because the debates lay bare the logic for expanding jus ad bellum in the case of those perceived to be barbarians, and a compelling counter-argument. Las Casas’ political solution to the “Indians” is to maintain previous states with their Kings and governors, with catholic preaches but without the military, and if the Kings express this wish, to establish a sort of federation presided by the King of Spain. Crimes against humanity in the name of any god seem to be a constant part of the human psyche. Initially, one can see Columbus nearly overwhelmed by the beauty of … Todorov was a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher and literary theoretician. Initially, one can see Columbus nearly overwhelmed by the beauty of these lands that he has encountered. The book offers an original interpretation of the Spaniards’ conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in … As a consequence, Christianity is not the only, nor the best way to God. They must be given their original freedom back and be reinstated in their sovereignty. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published 1984. True identification of self with the other is rare, as Todorov indicates, though Gonzalo Guerrero, the shipwrecked Spaniard, comes the closest (Todorov 195) and the wonderfully named Albar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca identifies “incompletely” with the Indians after he too is shipwrecked (Todorov 198). I give it four stars not because I liked it so much, but because I recognize that it is well written and I cannot fault the book in accuracy (otherwise some crazy scholars would be sending me hate mail). I could only give this book justice with a much longer review! Refresh and try again. After reading this book, I discovered that Columbus Day and all that it necessarily represents will never be seen in the same way again. I still think about this book all the time and read it well over a yr ago now in class. Now, how can you call that type of a person a hero–when all he did was make others suffer? Las Casas, also, ultimately rejects the idea of difference by illustrating that the Indians are potential Christians. One is always a barbarian to others and vice versa, as long as one does not recognize the language being spoken. Pp. In particular, he focuses on the work of three writers, all Spanish, but among the first generations of Europeans native to South America. This book takes an interesting tack in looking at the time of America's conquering and attempted assimilation into the European milieu. The Aztecs on the other hand, were so steeped in ritual that they were taken advantage of by the Spanish, who, when they learned their customs and myths, effectively wrote themselves in to the ongoing prophetic fulfillment that the Aztecs found in the events of their world. Each of the four sections (Discovery, Conquest, Love, Knowledge) is interesting. The problem of translation was another which caused much dispute as to whether indoctrination should be done in Indian languages. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. It hinges on a pursuit of material goods, gold, and immaterial values, evangelical aspirations. Certainly thought provoking. From the view of the prophets and holy men of the indigenous communities, the coming of the Spanish was not something to be fought. Why buy from World of Books. Todorov argues that in order to convert them, Las Casas had to conceive of them as equals: “It is not that Christianity is unaware of oppositions or inequalities; but the fundamental opposition here is the one between believer and unbeliever; Christian and non-Christian; yet each man can become a Christian … equality is an unshakable principle of the Christian religion” (Todorov 161). Among his most influ... About Tzvetan Todorov: In Bulgarian Цветан Тодоров. It is interesting to consider that one of the primary goals, especially when encountering the native population, is the conversion to the Christian faith for the glory of God. Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper. By TZVETAN. Sahagun is another example of a historian and chronicler who carefully recorded original accounts of their history in his monumental work The Florentine Codex. There were also far too many ill conceived generalized assertions and misplaced analogies. He was a professor of Latin grammar in the Franciscan college of Tlatelolco dedicated to forming the Mexican elite from the former nobility. In the age of the book, this decision cannot be left to the audience: the choice must be made in order for the book to exist and one merely imagines (or hopes for) an audience that will have given one answer rather than the other; one also tries to listen to the answer suggested or imposed by the subject itself.”, http://books.google.com/books?id=LrcX-UKNdBEC&dq=tzvetan+Todorov%E2%80%99s+Conquest+of+the+Americas&source=gbs_navlinks_s, See 1 question about The Conquest of America…, Crusaders, Conquistadores and Colonial Empires, Goodreads Staffers Share Their Top Three Books of the Year. Todorov uses a great deal of first-hand documentation to display the mindsets and motivations of such historical figures as Colombus, Cortes, and Montezuma. (Todorov 171). Yet if the Indians are potential Christians, then they are fundamentally no different from the European Christians sent to convert them. A bit slow and painful at times, but if you can barrage through it, you will definitely learn a lot. They were fully engaged in an air of cultural and moral supremacy. From the view of the prophets and holy men of the indigenous communities, the coming of the Spanish was not something to be fought. A grim but incredibly insightful account of the Conquest of America. It's a side of this history that I had never seen before, and I'm very glad that I've now explored it. The questionnaires which he used to organize the accounts are one way of controlling the information. Todorov considers Duran and Sahagun, two chroniclers of conquest. When you really think about it, every year when Columbus Day is celebrated, people celebrate and dedicate the holiday to him, but people don’t really know what they’re really celebrating. Pp. This is a side of history that is seldom taught in textbooks, yet has become a classic in the field of Sociology and History. Sahagun saw the terrible consequences of the replacement of the Aztec civilization by the Spaniards. The narrative of the conquest of America serves as a sort of case study to illustrate Todorov's ideas concerning the Other, and ample supporting evidence is given from the writings of Columbus, Cortes, several Spanish historians of the period, and even some of the Aztecs' writings. He interviewed Indians who were eyewitnesses to the conquest and used native scribes to record and illustrate what was said in Nahuatl. I only made it 25 pages in and decided it wasn't worth it. to the memory of a Mayan woman devoured by dogs,” to his epilogue statement that in America “the other remains to be discovered” (p. 247), Todorov challenges the reader to engage in a sophisticated semiotic interpretation of the conquest of Mesoamerica. We're familiar with Columbus's discovery of the islands in the Caribbean and their Indians. Each of the four sections (Discovery, Conquest, Love, Knowledge) is interesting. In terms of the built-in scale for valuing civilizations, then Indian civilization’s greatness lay in its ability to absorb diversity and make it its own. I point out some positive and negative elements of the book. scriptures and etc. Todorov gives us an interpretation of Columbus’ discovery of America, and the Spaniards’ subsequent conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico and the Caribbean. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. This video is unavailable. Overall this book is excellent in giving the reader a more nuanced understanding of the history of the 16th century so-called “New World.”. The Conquest of America In the book The Conquest of America by Tzvetan Todorov, Todorov brings about an interesting look into the expeditions of Columbus, based on Columbus’ own writings. We’d love your help.