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In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery Paperback – May 29, 2012
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About the Author
Annette Kolodny is College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century and the editor of The Life and Traditions of the Red Man, by Joseph Nicolar, both also published by Duke University Press. In addition, she is the author of The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630–1860, and The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kolodny writes elegantly and fluidly, without condescension or academic jargon, and organizes her material clearly. I found the book absorbing.
In short, for anyone interested in American history or literature, this is "a great read."
Then there is the sociology of Americans learning that the Sagas suggested that the Norse may have preceded the Spanish, which appealed to the descendents of northern Europeans. False archeological discoveries in New England fueled this trend of thinking, and were the foundation for a thread in nineteenth century American literature. Protestants used the Sagas to counter the idea of a Catholic discovery of the new world, and Catholics responded by representing Norse landings as the first Christian--and Catholic--spreading of Christianity to the new world.
So much to like about the book. But ... The author is an Emerita Professor of literature, not an historian. She seems better at taking stories apart than telling them. She spends too many words on how poets of the nineteenth century were influenced by the Sagas, the false archeological discoveries, and the biases of the time. The Native stories are almost lost in her deconstruction of them; you almost end up thinking they have no historical content.
Kolodny obviously did a lot of research for this book, and thought a lot about many topics relating to contact between Natives and Europeans, and about American views of history. But she failed to settle on a narrative thread to tie her book together. For all its merits, it strikes me as disjointed and prolix; I found it a slog to finish.
as the literature itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'll be teaching an Early-American Lit class and I think the students will find this book's questions and solid scholarship very helpful in understanding the American frontier... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dorothy O'Connell
This is an amazing in-depth study to answer the long-burning questions of who arrived in North America from the Old World, how, why & when. Read morePublished 16 months ago by VELMA BURKHOLDER
Good information that explains why John Gunn was determined to attribute the origin of the Laguna to somewhere like Polynesia. Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Carol L. Navarrete