About the 1555 Edition: Introduction

The first Spanish edition of The Account of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was published in the city of Zamora, Spain, in 1542 under the title of La relacion que dio Aluar nuñez cabeça de vaca de lo acaescido en las Indias en la armada donde yua por gouernador Panphilo de Narbaez desde el año de veynte y siete hasta el año de treynta y seys quo bolvio a Seuilla con tres de su compañia.

The next edition was published in Valladolid, Spain, in 1555 with the title La relacion y comentarios del gouernador Aluar nuñez cabeça de vaca, de lo acaescido en las dos jornadas que hizo a las Indias. This second edition includes only minor changes in the text of his wanderings in North America; some of these, such as consistent changes in the spelling of geographical names, suggest that Cabeza de Vaca himself may have participated to a great degree in making the changes. The Account has been published many times since then in Spanish, many of the printings being reissued or changed versions of earlier editions. It has been translated into several languages.

There have been three English translations of Cabeza de Vaca's relación prior to the present work [since this was written in 1993, three new English translations have appeared.] The first was Buckingham Smith's translation of 1851. Next was Fanny Bandelier's 1905 translation, and the most recent was Cyclone Covey's version of 1961. All three are complete and annotated, except that Bandelier's does not include the Proem. Besides these, a number of partial or paraphrased English translations have been produced. [The earliest English account of Cabeza de Vaca's relación appears in Samuel Purchas' 1625 anthology of exploration literature, Purchas His Pilgrimes.]

-- Martin A. Favata and José B. Fernández from The Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Relación. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1993. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.