Todorov’s perspective on dialogue represents an exemplary and epic view of the New World, in the light of four categories: discovery, conquest, love, and knowledge. Each one is symbolized by figures considered emblematic of a qualitatively ascending process of approach. In this perspective Todorov intervenes in the internal mechanisms of the dialogue between two cultures differently equipped to withstand the clash. Once the principle of equality has been denied in colonial practice, the difference remains in generating subalternity and subjugation. The Conquest of America, beyond being read as a catalogue of the errors of the past and a reminder to avoid their replication, is the connection between the two phases of the reflection of its author: between the definition of the dialogical model and the acknowledgement of its failure, and the peroration of a critical universalism that finds (not by chance) its greatest representative in Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the one who “lived the two cultures in conflict from within,” and whose experience “symbolizes and foretells that of the modern exile.”

Keywords: Discovery – Dialogue – The “other” – Critical universalism – Deculturation