This work by Sáenz, which is essentially a re-work of his doctoral dissertation, will hold little interest for the general historian. However, for those individuals occupied with ethnohistory, the monograph will be of some value, particularly the plates and figures. Likewise, the inclusion of an appendix which gives some of the archeological finds and their correlation to the overall picture of the early culture treated, will, perhaps, call some favorable attention to the endeavor. Aside from this there is really nothing new in this latest publication by Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México.
The work is based essentially on the writings of the late Conquest and early colonial eras. Based on these writings, which are admittedly of grand import in the historical development of Mexico as a great and cultured nation, Dr. Sáenz reaches certain conclusions and, it might be noted, many of his original hypotheses were changed prior to the defense of his dissertation. It is encouraging to note that much more extensive work is being done in the archeological area (particularly around the site of Xochicalco) to substantiate, alter, or obviate general conclusions drawn earlier by the author and certain other members of the Mexican archeological, anthropological, or historical fraternities. At this point the second foreign publication of this work seems a bit premature in that much of the content needs, and finally is getting, a closer examination.
There seems to be no true conclusions drawn regarding Quetzalcóatl and his (their) place in the early cultures of Mexico (and, to an extent, Central America). Had the author taken a stand on the situation; had he more carefully delineated among the man, the god, and the mythological Quetzalcóatl, the work could have been of inestimable value. As it stands it is an interesting “picture book,” with fragmentary comment, ultimately proving nothing new. The research which has gone into the work, and the further study which will inevitably come, is of great import—perhaps five years from now a new work can be published, giving definitive information. This reviewer must say that the work should be included in the libraries of those interested in the epoch indicated, as it is certainly one of the most comprehensive works yet published concerning Quetzalcóatl per se, but he must urge that further, detailed work be done on the subject.
The mechanics of the book are quite well done, excepting for the usual lack of a table of contents, an index, or a clear and readable system of footnoting. The bibliography, on the other hand, is most complete and contains an excellent selection of source materials, both primary and secondary.