, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 85-92

The two authors of Columbus'Diary

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Although Columbus'Diary of the first voyage to America as we know it is largely a transcription of the original diary carried out by Bartolomé de las Casas, commentators and readers often treat it as if it were Columbus' work alone. Editions published to date do not separate the explorer's narrative from that of his transcriber or editor. Since style can influence readers' perceptions of a writer's personality, it is important to determine characteristics of writing attributed to Columbus that may pertain instead to his trascriber. This study employs the computer to explore the style of Las Casas and that of Columbus. Differences in the writing of each “author” emerge with computer assistance by isolating Columbus' words from those of his transcriber and analyzing selected features of vocabulary, sentence length, and syntax.1

Estelle Irizarry, Professor of Spanish at Georgetown University, is Editor of Hispaniaand Courseware Editor of CHum.She is the author of over 20 books on Hispanic literature.