Myths and Nationhood by George Schopflin, Geoffrey Hosking

By George Schopflin, Geoffrey Hosking

First released in 1997. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Not for the first time, by his own account, Smith uses the fear and ignorance of the Powhtans to get what he wants, to assert the superiority of his own claims. And, seen in the context of that account as a whole, Pocahontas’s saving gesture seems less the act of a noble savage that it later came to be, and more part of an evolutionary tale in which the savage yields to the advance of the civilized. Pocahontas’s evident readiness to sacrifice her life for John Smith, in other words, becomes here a romantic variation on the theme that runs through all this particular captivity tale.

For God’s sake send beef and cheese and butter,” he wrote to them in 1623. Shortly after, the entreaties became more urgent. ” Frethorne did not suggest that he was alone in his suffering. On the contrary, “people cry out day and night – Oh! ” And the sheer bitterness of his sense of exile in the wilderness offers a useful corrective to the dominant European version of early settlement in the New World. Puritan narratives Dominant that version was, though, and in its English forms, along with the writings of John Smith, it was given most powerful expression in the work of William Bradford (1590–1657) and John Winthrop (1588–1649).

Bradford has no problem, for example, in explaining the slaughter of four hundred of the Pequot tribe, and the burning of their village, by the English. ” Whether difficult or not, however, this habit of interpreting events with the help of a providential vocabulary was to have a profound impact on American writing – just as, for that The Colonial and Revolutionary Periods 29 matter, the moralizing tendency and the preference for fact rather than fiction, “God’s truth” over “men’s lies,” also were.

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