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Other titles in the Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes series:
Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith: Volume Three of Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes (Seven Dreams Volume #03)by William T. Vollmann
Synopses & Reviews
For the past ten years William T. Vollmann has been working on one of the most ambitious novelistic projects of his generation: a seven-volume series of novels (Seven Dreams) that examines the repeated collisions between Native Americans and European colonizers and oppressors. Thus far, three novels have been published: The Ice-Shirt, Fathers and Crows, and The Rifles.
In Argall, the third book in the series and the fourth to be published, Vollmann alternates between extravagant Elizabethan language and gritty realism in an attempt to imagine what the lives of John Smith, Pocahontas, and their contemporaries might really have been like. Behind all of these characters stands the terrifying figure of Captain Samuel Argall, who will abduct Pocahontas, burn Indian towns, and bring black slavery to North America. This magnificent novel digs beneath the romantic legend of Pocahontas and the betrayals, disappointments, and atrocities behind it, offering a moving tale of dispossession that will appeal to fans of history and contemporary fiction alike.
"Vollman's angle on the 'romance' of Capt. John Smith and 'Pokahuntas' is not pretty. Still, Vollman doesn't connive at rote political correctness, either. Inspired by John Smith's own Generall Historie of Virginia, the novel is a vast fresco unfolding the encounter between the Virginia settlers and Powhatan's 'People'....When Vollman turns to the enigmatic Pokahuntas, he paints a portrait that is both respectful and moving, much different from the author's usual mannered sexual outrageousness....Vollman's ability to write in Smith's English and endow it with a contemporary snap is an extraordinary feat. For readers willing to undertake Vollman's somewhat forbidding oeuvre, this is the book to begin with." Publishers Weekly
"Adventurous in life and on the page, Vollmann is a phenomenally prolific, fearless writer, possessed of great stores of knowledge, a bristly humor, and a passionate curiosity about humanity....Vollman's interpretations of the machinations and violence between the invading Europeans and the native people are richly imagined, and his portraits of the bumbling captain, betrayed and tragic Pocahontas, and her real father, the powerful and ruthless leader Powhatan, are intimate, fresh, ribald, and sympathetic....Vollmann's commanding yet nimble, ironic yet deeply felt approach to the continent's complex history is the work of genius." Booklist (starred review)
"Aside from [the narrator's weird version of Elizabethan English], Argall is much more reader-friendly than the other volumes in the series, in part because of the greater familiarity of the material but also because the narrative is completely straightforward, without the intentional dreamlike obscurities of the earlier titles. Vollmann's history emphasizes the paranoia and cruelty of both the English settlers and the indigenous Virginians....Arguably the best installment in this magnificent series, this is definitely the place for new readers to start. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"The Seven Dreams sequence promises to return us to the history of the North American continent in a form we've never seen before....[I]t is likely to become one of the masterpieces of the century." The Chicago Tribune
The third volume of the author's epic saga of North America peeks behind the myth of Pocahontas and John Smith to recreate the story of the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia with gritty realism. Reprint.
In Argall, the newest novel in his Seven Dreams series, William T. Vollmann alternates between extravagant Elizabethan language and gritty realism in an attempt to dig beneath the legend surrounding Pocahontas, John Smith, and the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia-as well as the betrayals, disappointments, and atrocities behind it. With the same panoramic vision, mythic sensibility, and stylistic daring that he brought to the previous novels in the Seven Dreams series-hailed upon its inception as "the most important literary project of the '90s" (The Washington Post)-Vollmann continues his hugely original fictional history of the clash of Native Americans and Europeans in the New World. In reconstructing America's past as tragedy, nightmare, and bloody spectacle, Vollmann does nothing less than reinvent the American novel.
About the Author
William T. Vollman, the author of eleven books, was named one of the twenty best writers in America under forty by the New Yorker. His 1996 collection, The Atlas, won the PEN/ Center USA West Award for Fiction. His writings have appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Spin, Gear, Grand Street, and Outside.
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