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Marvelous Possessions:...
Stephen Greenblatt
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Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  130 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Marvelous Possessions is a study of the ways in which Europeans of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period represented non-European peoples and took possession of their lands, in particular the New World.

In a series of innovative readings of travel narratives, judicial documents, and official reports, Stephen Greenblatt shows that the experience of the marvelous,
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published October 14th 1991 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1991)
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Wonderful essay in response to Todorov's post-modern analysis of the texts produced by participants in the conquest of the new world. Strangely enough, I happen to have read Todorov's book, and found it to be a fascinating read, opening up a fantastic vista to the application of critical theory to historical texts. Greenblatt challenges some of Todorov's conclusions, but affirms and expands on his method.

The subject matter, the conquest of the Americas, is inherently challenging, being so charg
Greenblatt's argument is that most of the early world transactions were motivated by complicated desires of wonder, rather than the typical disparaging white-man greed usually attributed to them. He makes an interesting case, even when examining the most complicated of self-promoters (Columbus, Mandeville) and those who are normally not canonical in these early travel writings. Where Greenblatt is helpful is in looking at the specific language of the narratives he analyzes and finding an archety ...more
Argues that European interaction with the New World, in the late 15th and 16th centuries, was informed largely by their wonderment at the peoples and things that they discovered there. Builds the case on, perhaps, too slender a definition of "wonder", ascribing cultural meaning to it that was not necessarily a shared European one.
Greenblatt's range of subject matter is staggering. In this book, he takes on a subject that has received lots of attention, but relatively little clear analysis: What in the hell were the conquistadors thinking??
This is Greenblatt's reading of, and response to, Todorov's Conquest of America. A tremendously good book, with a slightly different interpretation than Todorov's.
Aug 09, 2007 Ranald rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the telling of history
Great read of the Columbus travel diaries and the initial linguistic encounter between Europeans and Native Peoples
H Wesselius
well written and well thought out approach to the meeting of two distinct cultures
more academic than I was expecting, didn't get through it
Sep 19, 2009 Sandra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandra by: Honor class
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Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition, he is the author of nine books, including Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Practicing New Historicism; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of t ...more
More about Stephen Greenblatt...
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare Hamlet in Purgatory Shakespearean Negotiations (New Historicism Studies in Cultural Poetics, #84)

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