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Abstract

Published in 1542, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s La relación is a chronicle of the Pánfilo de Narváez’s 1527 expedition to the New World in which Cabeza de Vaca was one of the four survivors. His account has received considerable attention. It has been appreciated and critically examined as a narrative of conquest and colonization, a work of ethnographic interest, and a text of some literary value. Documenting and fictionalizing for the first time in European history the experience of travelling/trekking in the region which now constitutes the Southwest in the United States, Cabeza de Vaca’s story testifies to the sense of disorientation, as well as to the importance of psychological and cultural mechanisms of responsiveness and adaptability to a different environment. What allows the Moroccan-American contemporary writer Laila Lalami to follow that perspective in her book The Moor’s Account (2017) is an imaginative transfer of the burden and satisfaction of narrating the story of the journey to the black Moroccan slave whose presence in the narratives of conquest and exploration was marginal. In Lalami’s book, Estebanico becomes the central character and his role is ultimately identified with that of a writer celebrating the freedom of diversity, one who survives to use the transcultural experience of the past creatively in ways well suited to the needs of the current moment.

Keywords

account, Cabeza de Vaca, Estebanico, La relación, narrative, diversity

References

Avila, Elena. Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2000. Print.

Bruce-Novoa, Juan. “Shipwrecked in the Seas of Signification: Cabeza de Vaca’s La relación and Chicano Literature.” Reconstructing a Chicano/a Literary Heritage: Hispanic Colonial Literature of the Southwest. Ed. Maria Herrera-Sobek. Tucson and London: U of Arizona P, 1993. 3–24. Print.

Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar Núñez. “Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. Paul Lauter. Lexington, DC: Heath, 1994. 128–40. Print.

Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. New York: Vintage, 2014. Print.

Mason, Wyatt. “To Be a Muslim in the West.” The New York Review of Books. 11–24 Feb. 2016: 23–24. Print.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. “Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective.” 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. Ed. Samuel Cohen. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 346–57. Print.

Stavans, Ilan. “ Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, La relación.” A New Literary History of America. Ed. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors. Cambridge: The Belknap P of Harvard UP, 2009. 11–15. Print.

First Page

320

Last Page

331

Language

eng

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