Christopher Columbus's Naming in the 'diarios' of the Four Voyages (1492-1504): A Discourse of Negotiation
Published: April 2014© 2014
296 Pages, 6.24 x 9.24 x 0.92 in
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In this fascinating book, Evelina Gužauskytė uses the names Columbus gave to places in the Caribbean Basin as a way to examine the complex encounter between Europeans and the native inhabitants.
Gužauskytė challenges the common notion that Columbus’s acts of naming were merely an imperial attempt to impose his will on the terrain. Instead, she argues that they were the result of the collisions between several distinct worlds, including the real and mythical geography of the Old World, Portuguese and Catalan naming traditions, and the knowledge and mapping practices of the Taino inhabitants of the Caribbean. Rather than reflecting the Spanish desire for an orderly empire, Columbus’s collection of place names was fractured and fragmented – the product of the explorer’s dynamic relationship with the inhabitants, nature, and geography of the Caribbean Basin.
To complement Gužauskytė’s argument, the book also features the first comprehensive list of the more than two hundred Columbian place names that are documented in his diarios and other contemporary sources.
List of Illustrations
Chapter One: “Named Incorrectly”
Chapter Two: Words and the World
Chapter Three: “Y saber dellos los secretos de la tierra”
Chapter Four: Heavenly Bodies and Metallurgy in Columbian Toponymy
Chapter Five: Iguana and Christ
Chapter Six: Infernal Imagery
Appendix. Listing of Toponyms
‘This is an interesting book and a worthy addition to the growing volume of scholarship on Columbus.’William D. Phillip Jr., Renaissance Quarterly vol 68:03:2015
“Christopher Columbus’s Naming in the diarios of the Four Voyages is an ambitious and intriguing book. Gužauskyte’s approach is original, rich, and interdisciplinary, bringing new perspectives to the understanding of Columbus’s writing by exploring the relationship between narrative, culture, and the visual arts, whether from the mappa mundi or medieval religious art.”Asela Laguna, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, Rutgers-Newark
“Evelina Gužauskyte shows in this fascinating book how Columbus’s discourse of naming reveals how power was negotiated between Columbus and the indigenous people he encountered. Most intriguing is her contention that the Tainos influenced that discourse and, more generally, ‘the Western mind.’ The appendix of place names is a valuable contribution to Columbus studies.”Elise Bartosik-Vélez, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Dickinson College