The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century

By Francis Parkman | Go to book overview

Given Parkman's ethnocentric ideology, why should anyone bother to read his books today? Some might point to his descriptive style and the strength of his research. He wrote with undeniable grace, passion, and verve; his work is a fine example of the narrative style of history. On the other hand, some have found his descriptive style and especially his narrow nineteenth-century moralistic pronouncements irritating. He was among the first American scholars to rely heavily on French manuscript and printed documentary sources, but these have by now been greatly augmented, reexamined, and fashioned into new interpretations. In other words, most modern historians would consider Parkman's writings dated.

Yet Parkman needs to be read and reread, not only because he tells an exciting story based on historical fact, not only because he represents a window into a particular set of nineteenth-century American beliefs--although he does all that--rather, Parkman continues to be important because his work continues to influence the historiography of colonial North America, New France, and natives. Whether in allegiance or in opposition to Parkman's views and interpretations, those who work on this period and geographic area cannot escape his intellectual legacy. Modern historical research on northeastern North America evolved from him. Here are the intellectual roots that every student must read because Parkman's were the first great works by a modern historian on the establishment of European roots in North America.


REFERENCES

Brandão, J. "Your fyre shall burn no more": Iroquois Policy toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Eccles, W. J. "The History of New France According to Francis Parkman." William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 18, no. 4 ( April 1961): 163-75.

Casgrain, H.-R. Francis Parkman. Quebec: C. Darveau, 1872.

-xvi-

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