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“Genesis” in Galeano’s the Memory of Fire Essay

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Updated: Sep 5th, 2022

Genesis” is the first volume in Galeano’s The Memory of Fire that is organized as a set of vignettes put in chronological order. Each vignette represents a unique story that occurred in a certain location stated before the subtitle during the period between 1492 and 1700 (Galeano, 2014). All the stories describe the experience of particular characters or the events that occurred in Europe and Latin America. The specifics of this historical part of The Memory of Fire need to be discussed in detail.

The characters described by Galeano are numerous, and they include Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew Columbus, Miquele de Cuneo, Alonso Hernandez, sailors, Indians, monarchs, conquistadors, and priests among others. Thus, the variety of protagonists presented in the book is distinctive, and each story is told from the perspective of this or that character and their vision. It is possible to focus on the ideas and voices of not only Columbus and sailors, as well as the authorities and priests, but also on the views of the Indians, conquered people, and Creoles.

These characters describe what they felt and experienced when conquering the territories in Latin America or when being conquered or enslaved by the Spaniards and other European warriors (Galeano, 2014). From this perspective, the book provides a collection of historical voices and dramatic stories to pay attention to in order to understand what events occurred in 1500-1700.

The main topics and points discussed in the stories include the conquest of the Latin American lands, the pursuit for gold, the propagation of religious views, humanity, slavery, killings, violence, and inequality. All these topics are presented through the description of certain events that occurred in different places and through the focus on the feelings and actions of the protagonists. Additionally, Galeano (2014) presents various poems and songs, and this approach makes the whole book resemble a primary historical source. As a result, it becomes possible to concentrate on the voices of suppressed Indigenous People and on the viewpoints of their violent oppressors.

The topic of violence is widely presented in the stories as they include the vivid pictures of beating, killing, abusing, and even burning other people. Following the events described in the vignettes, Indians experience extreme violence from the Spaniards because of conquistadors’ interest in Indians’ women, gold, silver, and other treasures. For example, in the story titled “An Experience of Miquele de Cuneo from Savona,” there is a description of Miquele’s beating a woman that was received as a gift from Columbus. In the story titled “Sacrilege,” Galeano (2014) provides the description of burning six men who buried the images of God. Thus, the problem of violence depicted in the sections is also in differences in cultures and religious views and in the perceptions of the status and power.

The collection of stories presented in Genesis” is unique in terms of combining the author’s poetic and figurative language and descriptions with the presentation of events that seem to be historical ones. As a result, the author creates a work that resembles both historical documents and mythological or fictional stories. The purpose of the collection seems to be the discussion of the elements of the American history with reference to the perspectives of different actors in order to explain their intentions and reasons. Therefore, the goals of the Spaniards in the Latin American lands can explain violence depicted in the book to the reader.

Reference

Galeano, E. (2014). The Memory of Fire trilogy: Genesis, Faces and Masks, and Century of the Wind. Open Road Media.

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IvyPanda. "“Genesis” in Galeano’s the Memory of Fire." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/genesis-in-galeanos-the-memory-of-fire/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“Genesis” in Galeano’s the Memory of Fire." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/genesis-in-galeanos-the-memory-of-fire/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '“Genesis” in Galeano’s the Memory of Fire'. 5 September.

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