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The Aztec Image in Western Thought by…
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The Aztec Image in Western Thought

by Benjamin Keen

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201515,329 (4)None

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This is an exhaustive and exhausting survey of how the Aztec civilization was discussed first in European writings and later in American and Mexican ones. The author starts from Spanish works written right after the conquest and finishes with scholarship published just prior to this book, so the scope is really impressive and I presume this must be the standard work on this subject. However, I also found the broad scope a bit irritating because the author has chosen to include everything he can find on the Aztecs, including works of fiction, poetry and art history. For the most part the book is a long list and it lacks the general argument about western worldviews that would have made this collection of snippets meaningful. I also would have liked to see the author adopt a more discriminating attitude toward second-rate works that merely parrot earlier ideas. In conclusion this is a comprehensive work but not really an intellectually stimulating one.
  thcson | Dec 9, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0813506980, Hardcover)

The great inquiry into the nature of Aztec civilization began at the very moment of its destruction in the name of the Spanish Crown and Church. The overwhelming discovery of a vast, luxurious overseas empire offering fresh evidence of the enormous diversity of customs and opinions among the nations of the earth expanded the imaginative as well as the geographic horizons of Renaissance Europe. In The Aztec Image, Benjamin Keen explores the shifting attitudes and focus of the scores of historians, philosophers, scientists, and men of letters and the arts who dealt with the Aztec theme in the four and a half centuries after the conquest of Mexico. From that time to the present, the world of the ancient Aztecs has been a subject of compelling interest and controversy in the West.

Keen explains how each new view continuously corrected and developed, the Western conception of Aztec civilization. He relates prevailing ideas about the Aztecs to the broad socioeconomic, political, and ideological patterns of the age, as well as to the contemporary state of knowledge about ancient Mexico. A comprehensive work of historiography, Keen's book is the first to encompass the sweep of Western thought on the Aztecs from Cortes to the present.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

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