Friday, January 10, 2014

Lucy Maddox on Catlin and Melville

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/features/whitman/catlin.php

Update: For more on Catlin at Melvilliana, check out
In Removals: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Politics of American Indian Affairs, Lucy Maddox considers the similar views of Herman Melville and George Catlin on the condition and doom of native peoples. For instance, as Maddox observes, both Melville and Catlin critique misuse of the term "savage." Melville like Catlin favorably contrasts natives against "civilized" predators, sympathizing with Marquesans as victims of European oppression to such an extent that, for Maddox:
"Melville's shipboard world is the equivalent of Catlin's American Frontier"
But of course there's a catch. Maddox perceives in both Melville and Catlin an association of "otherness" with presumed inferiority.  That's obviously debatable.  With a different take, Robert Milder counters:
"... the ethical superiority of Western civilization is precisely what Typee questions." 
(Exiled Royalties p22)
Strangely there is no citation in Removals of the passage in Typee where Melville explicitly talks about the "Red race" of North America, i.e. Indians.  Melville links Polynesian islanders and American Indians as victims of violent and widespread destruction:
Let the savages be civilized, but civilize them with benefits, and not with evils; and let heathenism be destroyed, but not by destroying the heathen. The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
I'll have to get Maddox's book to be sure about this, but I did search at Amazon using the LOOK INSIDE! feature:
"0 results for extirpated"
Update: now with book in hand, I am able to confirm that Maddox (in the published volume) did pass up the chance to quote Melville's specific comment on the destruction of North American Indians. Melville's comment was removed from chapter 26 in the American revised edition of Typee. Expurgated along with this lament for the future of his Marquesan hosts, which Maddox does quote in her chapter on Melville titled "Writing and Silence":
Ill-fated people! I shudder when I think of the change a few years will produce in their paradisaical abode.
Appealingly, Removals by Maddox offers substantial discussions of Indian and Western themes in Benito Cereno and The Confidence Man.

As for the question of influence, Maddox finds it "likely" that Melville had read in Catlin's Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians before the writing of Typee.
The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
Read more at http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_anglosaxon_hive_have_extirpated_paganism_from_the#kQ4uUycuUIko7hW9.99
The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
Read more at http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_anglosaxon_hive_have_extirpated_paganism_from_the#kQ4uUycuUIko7hW9.99
The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
Read more at http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_anglosaxon_hive_have_extirpated_paganism_from_the#kQ4uUycuUIko7hW9.99
The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
Read more at http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_anglosaxon_hive_have_extirpated_paganism_from_the#kQ4uUycuUIko7hW9.99

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