Early American Authors: Knight, Byrd, Cooper, Irvi

1316 words - 5 pages

Literary Encounters with the New World The way in which the early explorers exploited the Native Americans is simply ghastly. It is hard to give any merit to the "accomplishments" of Christopher Columbus. Simple poems of the Aztecs emotionally describe their difficulties, such as on page five in our textbook, written by an anonymous native writer: Broken spears lie in the roads; we have torn our hair in our grief.The houses are roofless now, and their walls are red with blood. Notwithstanding such horrendous actions against these indigenous peoples whose lands and tribes we ravished, I found John White's journal about the attempt to find the people of Roanoke extremely interesting, though somewhat dull (as most writings of this time). "The Fifth Voyage of Mr. John Winthrop" was full of intriguing descriptions about the new land, as yet virtually unblemished by us, and about the first search for the lost population of Roanoke. This subject (Roanoke) has always interested me. Although the book makes references to the assumption that the people simply moved to another colony, many of the incidences and discoveries of Winthrop suggested otherwise. I guess this subject intrigues me because it is one of the classic unsolved mysteries, and the first major mystery we have about our country. The insert of Captain John Smith's "The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles" was amusing to me. His exaggerations are plainly evident. I cannot help but like the man, however, because I have an interest in Pocahontas, whose one thousand plus page biography was one of the first large books I ever read. Sarah Kemble Knight & William Byrd Sarah Kemble Knight's "Private Journal of a Journey from Boston to New York" provided the most interesting reading of the bunch. I can't help but feel sorry for her, though, when I think about how mortified she would have felt to have all of her private thoughts and emotions displayed for the world for almost three hundred years. She has a wit and frankness (in her diary at least) that I did not expect, considering the time in which she was writing. Such sentences as "thus, absolutely lost in thought, and dying with the very thoughts of drowning, I come up with the post, who I did not see till even with his horse" (413). I could really relate to this - often I find myself utterly absorbed on some miscellaneous subject and pay absolutely no mind to events around me. Another interesting point (to me) was the fact that one of the days published was my birthday (October 7). I always enjoy reading of some event that transpired on my birthday, be it years and years before and with no bearing on anything present, or the previous year and affecting me. "The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover" has to be one of the driest pieces of literature I have ever read. In my opinion, he lived an exceedingly dull life. And how can one live off boiled milk? And his frequent...

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