The Voyages of Christopher Columbus Critical Essays

Armstrong Sperry


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

As a book in the Landmark series, a series for young readers dedicated to impart information as well as inspiration, The Voyages of Christopher Columbus fills a need of the juvenile and young adult audience. Youth has need of heroic tales, and Sperry’s slant in this biography fulfills that requirement. He depicts Columbus as a visionary who restlessly sought to accomplish his goal, persisting through scorn, disappointment, failure, and loneliness. According to Sperry, there is no mistaking the message that Columbus’ chief goal in undertaking the voyage was noble: to spread the Christian faith and then bring honor to Spain.

Modern historians dispute the validity of much of the available information about Columbus. Furthermore, Sperry gives no evidence of scholarly research to substantiate his work. Facts and myths are interwoven into the fabric of the book (the book has no bibliography). For example, in chapter 5, there is a dramatic scene in the throne room in which Columbus, after much effort, finally receives financial support and authority from the Crown to sail west to the land of the Khan. Sperry dramatically describes Isabella of Castile’s magnanimous gesture of donating her emeralds to defray the cost of the voyage. Historians, however, denounce the story of Isabella’s donation of jewels as myth.

Sperry devotes considerable space in the first ninety-eight pages of his 186-page volume building up details about Columbus’ character traits (determination, faith, and loyalty) and his nautical ability, which make him competent in...

(The entire section is 645 words.)