A DIARY IN THE STRICT SENSE OF THE TERM by Bronislaw Malinowski

A DIARY IN THE STRICT SENSE OF THE TERM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These diaries, kept during his first field trips to New Guinea and the Trobriand Islands, 1914-15 and 1917-18, seem to have their source in Malinowski's almost compulsive attempt to control his psychic life through a scrupulously inclusive documentation of his thoughts and activities. They were written in solitude, perhaps to counteract his recurrent sense that among the natives he was ""always in a world of lies."" He suffers, too, from doubts about his failure to fight in the war, and therefore attempts to ""place my everyday life in that heroic frame."" This juxtaposition of the functioning organism with its heroic aspiration has comic aspects of which Malinowski was not unaware. The portrait which emerges is that of a youngish--29 to 38-year-old--Ulysses, whose journeys, in spite of their exotic setting, seem more reminiscent of Joyce than Homer, obsessively determined to be faithful to his Penelope (""I look at the slender agile bodies of little girls in the village and I long--not for them, but for her""), an Anglicized Austrian Pole who wishes on occasion for a piano; spouts Nietszche and Wagner, reads Wells, Bronte and Conrad, and sounds, at times like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. What comes through, beyond the documentation, and gives the book an interest for the general reader, is a vitality which ""compels me to plunge into reality...Something greater than curiosity and more essential than thought.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World