The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other

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University of Oklahoma Press, 1999 - History - 274 pages
A classic in its field, The Conquest of America is a study of cultural confrontation in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America. The book offers an original interpretation of both Columbus's discovery of America and the Spaniards' subsequent conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico and the Caribbean. Using sixteenth-century sources, the distinguished French writer and critic Tzvetan Todorov examines the beliefs and behavior of the Spanish conquistadors and of the Aztecs, adversaries in a clash of cultures that resulted in the near extermination of Mesoamerica's Indian population. A new foreword by Anthony Pagden discusses the implications of Todorov's landmark study.


The Discovery of America
Columbus as Interpreter
Columbus and the Indians
The Reasons for the Victory
Montezuma and Signs
Cortés and Signs
Understanding Taking Possession and Destroying
Equality or Inequality
Enslavement Colonialism and Communication
Typology of Relations to the Other
Durán or the Hybridization of Cultures
Sahagún and His Work
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About the author (1999)

Tzvetan Todorov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria on March 1, 1939. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Sofia and then moved to France to pursue postgraduate work. He completed his doctorate at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in 1966 and he began teaching at the National Center for Scientific Research in 1968. In 1983, he helped found the Center for Arts and Language Research, involving scholars from both institutions. He was a literary theorist and historian. He wrote numerous books including The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, On Human Diversity, Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps, A French Tragedy: Scenes of Civil War Summer 1944, The New World Disorder: Reflections of a European, and Fear of the Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations. He died of multiple system atrophy, a progressive brain disorder, on February 7, 2017 at the age of 77.

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