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Mythical Indies and Columbus's Apocalyptic Letter

Imagining the Americas in the Late Middle Ages

Mythical Indies and Columbus's Apocalyptic Letter by Elizabeth Willingham
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With his letter of 1493 to the court of Spain, Christopher Columbus heralded his first voyage to the present-day Americas, creating visions that seduced the European imagination and birthing a fascination with those "new" lands and their inhabitants. Columbus's epistolary announcement travelled from country to country in a late-medieval media event, but the letter has long been the object of speculation concerning its authorship and intention. British historian Cecil Jane questions whether Columbus could read and write prior to the first voyage while Demetrio Ramos argues that King Ferdinand and a minister composed the letter and had it printed in the Spanish folio. The central feature of the book is its annotated variorum edition of the Spanish letter, together with an annotated English translation and word and name glossaries. A list of terms from early print-period and manuscript cultures supports those critical discussions. In the context of her text-based reading, author Elizabeth Moore Willingham addresses earlier critical perspectives on the letter; explores foundational questions about its composition, publication, and aims; and proposes a theory of authorship grounded in text, linguistics, discourse, and culture.
Sussex Academic Press; December 2015
400 pages; ISBN 9781782840374
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Title: Mythical Indies and Columbus's Apocalyptic Letter
Author: Elizabeth Willingham