Sea Of Lentils

Overview

'Benitez-Rojo 'plays upon Spanish-American history rousingly, with an incessant hail of luminous, violent imagery and an unmistakable indignation...He writes wonderfully, with life, edge, and the density of a poem...With the semi-millennial anniversary of Columbus's landfall almost upon us, this novel makes us sorry that America was discovered.' --John Updike, New Yorker
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Overview

'Benitez-Rojo 'plays upon Spanish-American history rousingly, with an incessant hail of luminous, violent imagery and an unmistakable indignation...He writes wonderfully, with life, edge, and the density of a poem...With the semi-millennial anniversary of Columbus's landfall almost upon us, this novel makes us sorry that America was discovered.' --John Updike, New Yorker
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The approaching 500th anniversary of the discovery of America has occasioned a rash of novels that debunk the myth of Columbus as a great visionary and explorer. Cuban emigre author and academic Benitez-Rojo has chosen a different tack for his historical novel, weaving together four narratives that examine the effect of colonization of the New World on the European psyche. His scholarship is detailed and sound, but is coupled with an experimental literary approach that never quite provides a sweeping panorama of this period. As the book begins, a dying Philip II of Spain broods on the ill-conceived launching of the Armada against England and on his own role in the Inquisition. It becomes clear that Philip's religious fanaticism has much to do with the barbarism displayed by the conquistadors in the New World. We are introduced in subsequent story lines to unsavory English and Spanish merchants involved in the profitable African slave trade; a small Spanish regiment that wends its way through the swamps of Florida and duplicitously wipes out a colony of French Huguenot settlers; and a foot soldier who, taking advantage of the simplicity of his Indian hosts, plunders, rapes and kills them before he himself is killed. The New World, in Benitez-Rojo's interesting estimation, is, finally, a rogue's paradise, where it is all too easy to lose one's soul in the pursuit of wealth and the best one can hope for is to ``keep your sins within your own conscience and repent them every day.'' (Oct.)
Library Journal
In this highly original historical novel, Benitez-Rojo--professor of romance languages at Amherst and an authority on Carribean culture--gives substance to the events surrounding Spain's expansionism in the New World. Beginning in 1598, the text evolves as four intertwining narratives, comprising the deathbed musings of King Philip II; the triangular slave trade; the founding of St. Augustine, Florida; and the story of Arron Babtista, a soldier accompanying Columbus on his second New World voyage. Throughout, the socioeconomic impact of the Spanish conquest is evident: ``the sea Columbus had discovered was a total enterprise, just like the world itself.'' The book, whose title refers to a cartographer's misinterpretation of the word Antilles, displays a convoluted style of digression and interruption that befits the story of the archipelago culture it seeks to define. Of particular interest as the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage approaches; recommended for academic libraries with Spanish literature collections.-- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.
Booknews
Passages of praise by French, German, and English writers are collated. Originally published in 1985 (Plaza y Janes) and here translated from the Spanish by James Maraniss, the Cuban-born Benitez-Rojo (Romance languages, Amherst College) fictionally recreates the story of Spain's conquest of the Caribbean, stripped of its heroic myths. The title comes from an early cartographer who mistook the word Antilles for lentilles, thus connoting the farcical aspect of Europe's aggrandized colonizing venture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870237546
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.65 (d)

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