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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.60, No.1, 37 ~ 58, 2014
Title
A New World of Things: Rethinking Natural History in the Early Modern Atlantic World
Ralph Bauer
abstract
Recent scholarship has emphasized the prominent role that natural history played among early modern literary genres. Less attention has been paid, however, to the crucial role that the translation from Spanish texts about the New World played in the making of this early modern genre. This paper will begin to address this lacuna by focusing on the natural histories written by the Spanish chronicler Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes (1478-1557). Despite his marginalization by modern historians of science, Oviedo was the first point of reference for all subsequent writers about the New World, the “modern Pliny.” The transmission of his works into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, especially, provide a crucial link in the history of modern science and the Scientific Revolution. Thus, Oviedo`s La Natural hystoria de las Indias (1526) was the earliest sustained European treatment of the natural environment of the Caribbean, and it was also one of the most influential in a long early modern tradition of natural history writing about the New World, going through multiple Spanish editions and being translated into Italian, English, and French. This paper focuses on the legacy of Oviedo`s natural historical writing in the English context, beginning with Richard Eden`s 1555 translation and its many readers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the painter John White to the president of the Royal Society of London, Hans Sloane.
Key Words
natural history, literary genre, Gonzalo Fernandez de Ovideo, New World, scientific revolution,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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