Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Armstrong Sperry chronicles the relevant details of the historic voyages of Christopher Columbus and provides readers with an account of the events of Columbus’ early and final years. Material in the narrative’s nine chapters is arranged chronologically, beginning with 1491, the period immediately preceding the historic voyages. The first and last chapter of the book center on Columbus’ family life by featuring scenes with his son, Diego. The material of chapter 1 includes a visit by Columbus and his son to a priory in Spain and provides the occasion for a flashback to the days of Columbus’ youth and a meeting with his cousin Tonio, who taunted him about his desire to sail where no one had dared to venture. This flashback foreshadows the controversy surrounding Columbus’ future historic voyages.

In chapters 2 through 8, Sperry presents Columbus as an inquisitive navigator who was not content to sail in the confining patterns common to sailors of that time—south to Guinea, east to the Golden Horn, or north to Iceland. Instead, Columbus yearned to explore the western course into the Sea of Darkness, about which little was known. The book chronicles Columbus’ quest for financing for his explorations from the kings and queens of Europe until he finds assistance from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Four chapters detail the preparations for his journey, with all of their disappointments...

(The entire section is 447 words.)