Book Review Clendinnen,Inga.Aztecs:An Interpretation.University of Cambridge,1991,pp.xi+399.RRP $45.00hd.
Inga Clendinnen has had a fascination for the MesoAmerican area and it's history for over 30 years. Having wrote many books on the peoples and history of the region, her knowledge makes her well qualified to write a book such as Aztecs.
The book is not one based on historical facts and figures, but one which is founded on interpretations of what the author believes life was like in different spheres of Aztec life. Clendinnen refers to the Aztec peoples as Mexica(pronounced Meh-SHee-Kah)as that is what they called themselves and her interpretations of Mexican ceremony as a form of visual performance is breathtaking.
We firstly delve into the city and what it means to the Mexica people. Then, we enter the minds of the people who enjoy their part of society in different ways. From the warriors and priests, to the mothers, wifes and children of Tenochtitlan.
Next, Clendinnen enters the world of rituals, sacrifices and aesthetics before finishing off with the defeat of the Mexican city of Tenochtitlan by the forces of Cortes in 1521.
Studys into the Aztec way of life have usually focused on the Spanish conquests, rise to power of Tenochtitlan and especially into the ritual performances conducted by the peoples of Mexica.
Aztecs:An Interpretation focuses more on the authors interpretations of what the Mexica people may have thought, felt or understood about the world around them. Clendinnen attempts to understand Mexica belief 'not in belief at this formal level,but in sensibility:the emotional,moral and aesthetic nexus through which thought comes to be expressed in action,and so made public,visible and accesible to our observation.'1.
Clendinnen states that the 'account will unhappily,but by necessity,lack historical depth,'2.
The sources that she has access to are numerous but Clendinnen chooses...