Sunday, February 01, 2009

3rd post: Capaldi bio on Montezuma

From the archives, I found a copy of the letter from Holmes to Montezuma. Dated August 31, 1905, it reads:

My Dear Sir:
I am very desirous of procuring a brief biographical sketch of yourself for incorporation in the “Handbook of the Indians” to be published by this Bureau, and shall be greatly obliged if you will furnish the necessary data for this purpose. As the first part of the work is now being put in type, I shall appreciate any effort you may make to furnish the sketch at your earliest opportunity.
Very truly yours,
H. W. Holmes

When Montezuma wrote back to Holmes on October 7th, 1905, this is how he started:

My dear Friend:-
I am sorry that I delayed your request of August 31st.

In her presentation of Montezuma's letter, dated October 7, 1905, Capaldi starts with this:

My dear friend,
I know that you are gathering information on me and what befell my people. I am, therefore, delighted to answer your questions. I hope that what I write will add knowledge, acceptance and understanding for all.

In comparing her presentation of the letter to the letters exchanged between Holmes and Montezuma, I don't like what she did. I wish Capaldi had not used this technique, pulling Montezuma's words from several documents that span many years, weaving them (she says "I interwove") into the original letter to, she says "more fully present" his life. She says "I have made every effort to be true to the original sources and have only added brief phrases to make the text flow smoothly."

I'm really uncomfortable with Capaldi putting words in Montezuma's mouth. She tells us in her notes that she has done this, but that doesn't work for me.

I wish Capaldi had written this book more like the books in the Diaries, Letters, and Memoirs series published by Capstone Press, where the primary material is clearly set apart from additional information that does what Capaldi wanted (more fully present the person's life).

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