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200 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 tion=s scholarship is grounded. The sixteenth century was the golden age of scholarly editions of the Church Fathers (think of Erasmus), and the brazen age of controversial polemic stimulated by the Protestant Reformation and the Church of Rome=s Council of Trent (think of Error in book 1 of The Faerie Queene). Framed as exposition of the first verses of Genesis and of Exodus, Donne=s text is the object of Raspa=s careful recuperation of the >Cultural Context= of these knotty disquisitions. Thanks to this distinguished edition, it becomes materially more intelligible to contemporary readers. (W. SPEED HILL) Carole Blackburn. Harvest of Souls: The Jesuit Missions and Colonialism in North America, 1632B1650 McGill-Queen=s University Press 2000. x, 174. $60.00 The Jesuit Relations, originally published in the seventeenth century and then reprinted with an English translation in 1896B1900, have provided historians and anthropologists, as well as literary and religious scholars, with rich material for research on the early encounter of French missionaries with the Native nations of eastern Canada. Crammed with travel accounts, ethnographic descriptions, legends of saintly sacrifice and chronicles of war, the Relations have sustained a wide variety of readings. Catholic writers have looked to them for inspiration, while secular historians used them to construct a story illustrating the fundamental colonial struggle of >civilization= against >barbarism.= In recent decades, traditional interpretations have been overturned as scholars highlight the intolerant and ethnocentric dimensions of the Jesuits= words and their missionary actions. Meanwhile, ethnohistorians such as Bruce Trigger have mined the Relations for data that can help them reconstruct a history that places Native peoples at centre stage. Carole Blackburn=s new book takes an original approach to a familiar topic, drawing on postcolonial studies to examine the Relations as a discourse of power. Throughout the thousands of pages published between 1632 and 1673, she maintains, the Jesuits were consistently creating and reinforcing >dichotomies between colonizers and the colonized,= an >othering= process that not only reflected but concretely contributed to the subordination of Natives. The fact that the postcolonial literature was developed in the historical context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century empires, colonial settings in which Natives tended to be subjected to European domination in ways that were inconceivable in New France, does lead to a degree of awkwardness, though the author is not unaware of the incongruities. Blackburn develops her thesis through a discussion of three broad themes. Under the heading of >Wilderness,= she shows how the Jesuits humanities 201 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 assimilated indigenous peoples with the forest and its wild beasts, a physical and spiritual environment forsaken by God. She demonstrates in a subsequent chapter that Natives were portrayed as lacking a state, as well as the laws and constraints needed to keep passion and sin in check. Finally, her chapter on >Conversion and Conquest= brings out the aggressive, even militaristic, side of Jesuit rhetoric; the fact that France lacked the means to conquer the Natives of Canada as Spain had conquered those of Mexico and Peru, was cause for regret to some French Jesuits. None of these points is entirely new, but all are developed more fully and stated more forcefully than in previous studies. In analysing Jesuit rhetoric in this way, Harvest of Souls does make a valuable contribution to the field, though the analysis has a rather schematic, almost mechanical, quality. Blackburn concentrates on the most brutally judgmental passages from the Jesuit Relations to the neglect of texts that display greater complexity, uncertainty, and even counter-currents subversive of the colonialist thrust. Furthermore, a historian cannot help regretting the exclusive focus on discourse. This is a book about the Jesuits and their texts; the author shows little interest in contemporary work that attempts to retrieve the Native experience of missions and Christianity. She would have been well advised to consult the literature on indigenous peoples and missions in colonial Latin America; studies by Inga Clendinnen, Sabine MacCormack, and William B. Taylor are of particular interest to anyone trying to get beyond the assimilation/resistance polarity that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 200-201
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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