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By Frederick Busch

With willing ruminations that keep in mind the critics of yore--Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling, and Irving Howe--Busch, during this period of ethical indirection, calls on his enduring love of serious books to bare how the literature of the previous is the main to the longer term.

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The crossing took an entire day and also a life. The current swept Juan Velasquez off his horse, and the two vanished in the waters. Many scholars believe this river to be the Suwanee River. Reséndez writes that the terrain began to change after a month and a half of nothing but marshes. Suddenly, the trees were taller, the air cooler, and the climate more temperate (95). Cabeza de Vaca described this as “tierra muy trabajosa de andar y maravillosa de ver, porque en ella hay muy grandes montes y los árboles a maravilla altos, y son tantos los que están caídos en el suelo, que nos embarazaban el camino” (94).

Free at last, they arrived in Guaniguanico where another storm awaited them and carried them to Cabo de Corrientes where they ran into a third storm. In an article titled “Circulation of the Caribbean Sea,” A. L. Gordon explains that water flows into the Caribbean Sea from the southeast and continues westward as the Caribbean current before turning sharply eastward and entering the Gulf of Mexico as a narrow current known as the Yucatan Current. It is in the Gulf of Mexico that a river of seawater whose discovery dates back to the Ponce de Leon expedition of 1513 originates.

This reading of the stormy beginnings of the Narvaez expedition is about the encounter of a one-legged god (hurakan) with an unlucky chronicler named Alvar Núnez Cabeza de Vaca on November 9, 1527, off the coast of Trinidad, Cuba, an encounter that would ultimately produce what the critic Beatriz Pastor describes as a narrative discourse of failure (discurso narrativo del fracaso). Such is Cabeza de Vaca’s Naufragios, a rendering of the hapless Narvaez expedition that turned conquerors into mere survivors.

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