Heyerdahl's first adventure and the subject of his first book (published in Norway in 1938): an ill-conceived and...


FATU-HIVA: Back to Nature on a Pacific Island

Heyerdahl's first adventure and the subject of his first book (published in Norway in 1938): an ill-conceived and ill-starred attempt at the simple life in the Marquesas Islands. Fresh from the university, the 22-year-old Heyerdahl and his bride Liv got themselves ferried from Tahiti to Fatu-Hiva, the likeliest-looking of the Marquesas, found a promising site, and settled down to enjoy the life of primitive fruit-gathering, fishing, and housekeeping. This idyll lasted only until the rainy season, which drove the nature-seekers to mosquito netting (the threat of elephantiasis was a constant worry), disillusionment and bickering with the suddenly less friendly natives of the nearest village. They finally fled, in rapidly collapsing health, to the more salubrious island of Hivaoa. Back on Fatu-Hiva after being cured of tropical sores, they found a more wholesome spot by the ocean with a spry, cooperative survivor of the island's cannibal days--but again the serenity was ended when the villagers from the first site tracked them down, moved in on the hospitable old ex-cannibal en masse, and set up perpetual bacchanalias, slaughtering their host's pigs and brewing orange beer. The book ends with the young couple beating the inevitable sadder-but-wiser retreat to civilization, realizing the naivete of their original dream. A secondary theme is Heyerdahl's first reachings for the idea which was to result in the Kon-Tiki expedition and the revision of scholarly theories about prehistoric contact between Polynesia and South America. As always, Heyerdahl writes with spirit and considerable charm; unobtrusively he achieves an eloquent summary of the moral-technological-ecological dilemmas confronting the planet and its inhabitants.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1975


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1975