Imagining Columbus is Stavans's contribution to the literature on Columbus. 'My purpose,' says Stavans, 'is to revisit, to investigate, to play with the asymmetrical geometries of the admiral's literary adventures in the human imagination.' Arguing that writers have portrayed Columbus in three ways-as prophet or messiah, as ambitious gold-seeker, and as a conventional, rather unremarkable man-Stavans examines numerous poems, novels, short stories, dramas, and other works on Columbus in this provocative book. In Part 1, 'Mapmaking,' Stavans explores the two opposing views of the celebration of the quincentennial, and discusses the most notable biographies of Columbus, including those by Washington Irving and Samuel Eliot Morison. In Part 2, 'Lives of a Literary Character,' Stavans takes up the geographic and historical development of Columbus as a narrative figure in literature, and devotes a chapter to each of the three literary views of the admiral. Stavans includes portrayals of other writers' views on Columbus like Walt Whitman, Alejo Carpentier, James Fenimore Cooper, Friedrich Nietzsche, Nikos Kazantzakis, Ruben Dario, Michael Dorris, Louise Erdrich, among others.