(Summaries units 1-2, First term)
THE 17TH CENTURY
• John Smith (1580-1631)
• From The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles. Book III, Chapter 2. ( Published in 1624)
Captain John Smith was the author of the first books in English to chronicle the early days of the English colonization ofAmerica. Reporting and mapping his adventures, his books did encourage colonization. He arrived in the New World with the Virginia Company for commercial purposes. Undoubtedly, his military training was of great help when coping with the difficulties caused by the resistance of the Native People. A lively account of his military adventure with the Native Americans -whose authenticity many critics doubt-is narrated in his General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624) where he often mixed fact and fiction.
The author seems more interested in describing events, actions rather than characterization. No physical descriptions of the whites are provided. On the contrary, physical descriptions of the Indians tend to be derogatory (they are inferior, ignorant, brutish,savages, etc.). Besides, their sometimes contradictory behaviour –attacking or being king- presents them as unreliable. Never uses either direct or indirect speech and described precisely how his captors moved. Often justifies and defends himself.
Paying close attention to the writer’s choice of vocabulary, readers perceive the author’s military training (soldiers, sergeants, weapons …).
Using thethird person narrative to describe a personal experience shows the writer’s attempt to proclaim some objective distance to reinforce his heroicism. The more dangerous the fight, the greater the triumph. Facts are embellished, therefore distortioned, and the interpretation of those facts is also distorted. For new geographies demand new heroes.
Style: formal, ornate, with quotations fromclassical writers (Seneca) classical resources to demonise natives and present them as devils and compare their dwellings to hell.
Use of military lexicon, technical terms and words from Native language.
He uses 3rd person singular to distance himself from narrative voice (1st person) and give the impression that his account of events objectively reflect what happened. (1st person narratives aresuitable to express subjective impressions and opinions but are less effective that 3rd person narratives when authors want their statements to be accepted as if they were universal truths). In other words, he omits the personal pronoun I and writes of himself in the third person singular. (HE=SMITH).
Fusion of fact and fiction. Subjective point of view.
Informative and entertaining purpose.
• William Bradford (1590-1657)
He embodied the Puritan dream of building a new political as well as religious system in the New World, the City of God on earth. Their religious pilgrimage to the “promised land” – America- was backed up by a civil compact, the Mayflower compact, in order to secure the survival of all, Puritans and non-Puritan alike. Bradford’s history Of PlymouthPlantation provides a unique portrait of the trials undergone on crossing the Atlantic Ocean and in arriving, settling and accommodating to the new landscape. Puritan narratives tend to illustrate divine providence in their exemplary tales, written with a religious didactic purpose.
Both John Smith and William Bradford wrote travel narratives in which they described their personal encounter with theNative Americans. Both render a similar portrayal of the Indians (brutish, friendly at times, hostile at other moments, not to be trusted, as non-human, savages, primitive, not civilized, ignorant, etc.) However, they narrative strategies attest to their differences.
Both writers provide a personal account, that is, an autobiographical narrative, but they address the audience differently,...