Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

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University of Nebraska Press, 1999 - America - 3 pages
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s account of the doomed Narváez expedition to the vast unexplored lands beyond the northern frontier of New Spain has long been heralded as the quintessential tale of the European confronting the wilderness of North America and its native inhabitants for the first time. After living captive among native peoples of the present-day Texas coast for almost six years, Cabeza de Vaca traveled overland through present-day western Texas and northern Mexico until being reunited with his countrymen near the Pacific coast. His account offers an isolated glimpse of areas of Gulf coastal Texas and northeastern Mexico that would not be visited again by Europeans for over 150 years and is the earliest authentic eyewitness description of the North American bison.   Volume 3 considers the literary and historical contexts of Cabeza de Vaca’s relación. The literary inquiry examines the work’s creation, publication history, and literary and cultural legacy from the sixteenth century to the present. The historical analysis presents new studies of Spanish exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (1508–28), Spanish speculation on and exploration of the South Sea (1502–39), and Nuño de Guzmán’s conquest of Nueva Galicia (1530–31).

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An Interesting Travel Story and an Important Anthropological Document
A review by Daniel L. Berek
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca's account certainly offers a fascinating tale of exploring - and
surviving - an extremely hard and hazardous journey through what is now Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Sinaloa (Mexico). However, it is more than that. Cabeza de Vaca offers a good deal of valuable information on the customs of various Native American tribes that lived in the geographic areas he surveyed, falling short only in the area of linguistics. Moreover, he and Bartholome de las Casas are the only two Spanish explorers who were sympathetic to the plight of the Native populations to hand down accounts, the Spanish equivalents of the much later George Catlin. (Though one can learn much about the Maya in de Landa's account and the Aztecs through Bernal Diaz, the reader will cringe at the sheer cruelty the Europeans exhibited.) The translation is highly readable; though the seemingly endless annotations can become tedious, they do provide important information not found elsewhere. An important anthropological account of Native Americans, this book comes highly recommended. 


Textual History of Cabeza de Vacas Relacidn
Antecedents of the 1542 Relacidn 1527 to 1540
The Published Relacidn of Cabeza de Vaca 153842

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About the author (1999)

Rolena Adorno is the Sterling Professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University.

Patrick Charles Pautz holds an M.A. in Spanish from Princeton University and is an independent scholar. Adorno and Pautz coauthored Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez (Nebraska 1999), winner of the American Historical Association's 2001 J. Franklin Jameson Award, the Western Historical Association's 2000 Dwight L. Smith Award, and the New England Council of Latin American Studies 2000 Best Book Award.

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