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INSIDE This Issue
Financial Worries and Fears PAGE 1
Turn Back Time With Social Media PAGE 2
Spotlight on Rachele Evers PAGE 2
Essential Estate Planning Tips PAGE 3
Paleo Pumpkin Coconut Smoothie PAGE 3
The Real Man Behind Columbus Day PAGE 4
THE REAL MAN BEHIND COLUMBUS DAY
How an Author Created a Legend
The second Monday in October may be our nation’s most hot-button bank holiday thanks to the deeply divided perception of the man the holiday originally intended to celebrate, Christopher Columbus. In recent decades, there has been a re-examination of Columbus’ role as a national icon, with critics pointing to historical evidence of the man’s cruelty, incompetence, and instrumental role in establishing a racist colonial system in the “New World.” In the
Romantic history was particularly popular in the United States as our young nation struggled to establish a distinct culture and history of its own. In Irving’s time, most American works of literature were seen as “low” imitations of European works. It was in this context that Irving penned “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus,” which portrayed the first European to come to the Americas as a dreamer who broke free of the backward mindset of his continental contemporaries. This work perfectly captured the national mood, making this romantic origin story a hallmark of American myth. Today, “The Life and Voyages” has largely been derided by scholars. Professor of American literature John D. Hazlett says that Irving “... saw American history as a useful means of establishing patriotism in his readers, and while his language tended to be more general, his avowed intention toward Columbus was thoroughly nationalist.” Despite this criticism, the mythic figure first popularized by Irving remains a national symbol today. The story of Irving and Columbus serves to remind us that “history” and the past are not one and the same. Histories, romantic or otherwise, are interpreted and consumed by those in the present and can often say more about their own time than those they attempt to portray. Our nation was in search of an identity distinct from Europe in 1828. As the debate around Columbus Day continues to surge, one may ask, what is our nation in search of today?
face of such stark evidence, one wonders where the more innocent, heroic tales of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492 came from in the first place.
Enter Washington Irving, one of the pioneers of American literature. Irving is best known for his short stories “Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” but the early 19th-century author also dabbled in “romantic history.” This genre of literature shares many similarities with modern historical fiction, telling gripping, personal narratives set during historical events. However, unlike writers of historical fiction, romantic history authors tended to portray their works as objective, unbiased histories, despite obvious embellishments and inferences.
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