The Conquest of America

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Harper Collins, Nov 26, 1996 - History - 288 pages
2 Reviews

A fascinating study of cultural confrontation in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America, The Conquest of America has become a classic in its field. It offers an original interpretation of the discovery of America by Columbus and of the subsequent conquest, colonization, and destruction of Mexico and the Caribbean by the Spaniards at the beginning of the modern era.

Using sixteenth-century sources, the distinguished French writer and critic Tzvetan Todorov examines the beliefs and behavior of both the Spanish conquistadors and the Aztecs, adversaries in a clash of cultures that resulted in the neat extermination of Mesoamerica's Indian population.

Absorbing, intelligent, and responsible in its call for a much-needed dialogue between different cultures, The Conquest of America evokes a drama that set the pattern for much of the history of Western colonialism.


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User Review  - dorin.budusan - LibraryThing

I had to read this for a seminar on multiculturalism. It advances a very provocative theory about the Spanish colonials' contact with natives after the discovery of America, and the destruction of their native cultures. Read full review

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User Review  - alen2379 - LibraryThing

A truly wonderful book. A semiotician's view on the historical developments of a clash of two cultures. Some of the historical claims Todorov made were absolutely astounding, like the total victim ... Read full review


The Discovery of America
Columbus as Interpreter
Columbus and the Indians
The Reasons for the Victory
Montezuma and Signs
Cortes and Signs
Understanding Taking Possession and Destroying
Equality or Inequality
Enslavement Colonialism and Communication
Typology of Relations to the Other
Duran or the Hybridization of Cultures
Sahagun and His Work
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About the author (1996)

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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