“The Truth of John Smith”
The text I have chosen to write this essay about is an account by John Smith about his experiences in the New World and his first encounter with Native American people. The text I’m using is from the coursepack page 105 to page 107, General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, from the second chapter in book three. Although this text holds many interesting aspects, I have chosen the one aspect that interested me the most, namely, in which way the truth is represented in this particular text by John Smith. To work with this concept I have adopted two additional premises that I will elaborate further on in the rest of this essay. These premises are: What can be accounted for is true and: A text written from a certain horizon is never objective. With the help of these two premises, I will try to prove my interpretive thesis, which is that John Smith’s text is not objective and can therefore not be accepted as true, as such.
To start I would like to give attention to the figure of John Smith, who wrote this account of his travels at the beginning of the 17th century. To me it seems like he felt that he had a lot to prove, perhaps because he was one of the first to undertake such an expedition, and no one had ever experienced what he experienced with the natives. For some reason, Smith really tries to make the reader believe in his words. There are certain aspects in the text which indicate that Smith tries to make his text as believable as possible; he makes his text look truthful. This starts already with the title of his text: History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles. That he calls his account a history is noteworthy because history is a word that indicates truth. Everything that is history and is written in history books is usually believed to be true. It is a common understanding which we have in our society; something is only called history if the event is proved and if everyone comes to the...
Cited: - Smith, John. “General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 6th ed. Ed. Nina Baym et al. New York: Norton, 2003. 253-59.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document