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The Four Voyages of Columbus

Publication Date: October 13, 2010

Chapter: American Literature to 1700

A couple weeks ago, I found myself in a used bookstore with a gift card to burn. Among the tomes I picked up was Volume C of the Norton Anthology of Chapter: American Literature. Believe it or not, I'd never actually needed the American Norton in college, so this was my first exposure to it. I instantly knew that I had to have the whole set, so I kicked around Amazon for a few minutes and got the rest of the Sixth Edition volumes for almost nothing besides the price of shipping. Volume A helpfully arrived first, so I started to dig in.

It couldn't have come at a better time, since the beginning of the American Norton overlaps perfectly with where "Lit Brick" is currently at in the Chapter: English Norton. Thus begins what I'm calling "Meanwhile in America," spotlighting random bits from the American Norton that are concurrent with the English material. We'll dwell on some of the explorers • conquerors • oppressors • rapists of the natural world for a while, then jump back to England for quite a while. The primary goal of this comic is still to soldier through the entire English Norton. The American version is just a diversion at best.

What fascinates me a bit about the American Norton, however, is how much early American literature isn't in English. Given that the United States predominantly speaks English today, it's easy to forget that, until the late 1700s, America was almost evenly divided between a wide swath of languages: Volume A of the American Norton features works translated from Spanish, French, German, Dutch, and even Native American oral traditions, among others. For some reason, that just struck me as being particularly interesting.

Author: Christopher Columbus • Year: 1493 • Info: Wikipedia

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