Louy Marcel Lerebourg
Early Modern Europe
On Letters from a new World
Option 1 on the Handout
Vespucci is the most fitting for the roll of “discoverer of the new world”, because his letters to the magistrates of Florence, such as Lorenzo de Medici, were written in a detailed ethnographic style and contained themes of the Renaissance period. His work was later published and became renowned throughout the Renaissance culture. His ethnographic style of writing transposes the cultures, practices, and themes of the new world. His attention to detail in his letters is unsurpassed, and it is for these reasons, and the embellishment of Renaissance values in his prose, that he stands out as being the best candidate for “discoverer of the new world”, for he is the one who delivers the new world to the people. Vespucci’s fifth letter is emblematic of humanistic teachings that were occurring throughout the Renaissance.By retaining old manuscripts, schools of humanism focused on the development of rhetoric prose, and history. His letters fashioned the new world by creating a tangible piece of “the age of exploration” for students to analyze back home. Vespucci’s work is very much a reflection of his scholarly abilities, such as Studia humanitatis, the ability to speak with sublime eloquence, as he takes his education from the Renaissance and expands humanism beyond new horizons. An example of his ability to demonstrate the human condition in his prose is a passage from right before the new continent was in sight: “What we suffered in that vast expanse of sea, what dangers of shipwreck, what physical discomforts we endured, what anxieties beset our spirits…” (Vespucci, p. 46). The publishing of his work was critical to his rise as the “discoverer of the new world”, because not only does he expand the knowledge of a new world for students to study, he does so by creating a structure of sentences that entices the reader into actually feeling...
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