Mythic Anglo-Saxonism in John Smith and Pocahontas: The 'Generall Historie' and National Narrative

Michael Modarelli


This article explores the alignment of John Smith’s 'Generall Historie' with the development of national narrative. Drawing on critical theories of nation building, the essay develops the thesis that Smith and the Virginia Company of London reformulated an Anglo-Saxon nation-building myth specifically for New World conquering. The most Anglo-Saxon of these nation-building myths, which was designed to advertise peace and security in Virginia, is the Pocahontas story, itself a reformulation of an Anglo-Saxon myth signifying the marriage between cultures. In this way, Smith’s narrative and, ultimately, the dominant mythology of settlement established by the Virginia Company, are both shaped by Anglo-Saxon ideological conventions used to bolster confidence in future New World ventures.

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