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Sad Nights

Michael Wood, 26 May 1994

The Conquest of Mexico 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 832 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 671 70518 0
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The Conquest of Mexico 
by Serge Gruzinski, translated by Eileen Corrigan.
Polity, 336 pp., £45, July 1993, 0 7456 0873 6
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... ended a world, or consigned that world to the devious and subterranean life it is seen to live in Serge Gruzinski’s book. Cortés left Cuba in November 1518. By June 1519 he had founded a city on the Mexican coast, La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. The plaza was designed, building begun, stocks set up already, ‘a reminder’, as Thomas nicely ...

Dark Underbellies

Lorna Scott Fox, 24 March 1994

A Trip to the Light Fantastic: Travels with a Mexican circus 
by Katie Hickman.
HarperCollins, 301 pp., £16.99, October 1993, 0 00 215927 9
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... André Breton proclaimed the whole country to be surrealist. More recently the cultural critic Serge Gruzinski has argued for its essentially peripheral, hybrid and thus Post-Modern nature. Here, the paradoxes of making a book about how someone’s reality is like a book – of a genre questionably assumed to reproduce reality – erupt on the first ...

Great Expectations of Themselves

Anthony Pagden: Was there a Spanish Empire?, 17 April 2003

Spain’s Road to Empire: The Making of a World 1492-1763 
by Henry Kamen.
Allen Lane, 609 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 7139 9365 0
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... from Kamen’s bibliography which, given his enormous influence, is difficult to account for) or Serge Gruzinski’s writings on mestisaje (also absent) which depict the Empire as not only multinational but also multiracial, his claims appear a great deal more modest. Kamen’s end-dates are familiar ones: 1492 was the year of the final collapse of the ...

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