The New Arcadia


Layton (Notes From Elsewhere: Travel and Other Matters, 2011) dissects Tahiti’s complex history by examining not only historical accounts, but also the cultural myth these accounts spawned in the Western world.

Beginning with the initial accounts of European navigators’ arrival on Tahiti while searching for Australia and continuing through the island’s colonization to its current political and cultural climate, Layton juxtaposes Tahitian history with its idyllic image, which has long permeated Europe and America. Layton details how Tahiti’s beautiful landscape, abundant produce, and seemingly sexually receptive female population made it a paradise for explorers. It was these initial accounts that formed the basis for this myth, a version that, while immensely popular and appealing, was shaped as much by European ethnocentrism as it was by the actual culture of the island. Layton explains how European accounts may have not only misrepresented the culture of Tahiti, but also brought about an influx of European sailors, missionaries, and merchants whose presence had detrimental results for the people whose way of life they romanticized. Disease, religious turmoil, and slavery devastated the island’s population and culture, leaving lasting effects that modern residents are still contending with. Later chapters examine modern Tahiti, particularly the work of modern Tahitian writers, and show how many are attempting to rectify the stereotypical images the myth instilled by creating more realistic portraits of past and contemporary Tahitian life. Drawing on her background in anthropology, Layton is an informed writer, but she never drifts toward the stuffy. The vast resources used—early explorers’ diaries, contemporary academic analysis, as well as art and literature—offer solid context and support for her thesis.

A layered and fascinating analysis of history and anthropology. 


Pub Date: July 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6859-9

Page Count: 328

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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