TROPIC OF DOUBT by Susanne McConnaughey


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A novel of the English missionaries of George Ill's reign relies on the faith and humanity of Reverend Thomas Lewis for its story. Product of rigid Calvinism, his post, with other brethren, in Tahiti, is to convert the islanders. His questions about the value of the work of the gospel, when it sullies the innocence of the primitives, about their sense of life versus the death-in-life religion offers, and about their equality as human beings bring criticism and censure upon him, from his superiors and his fellow workers. His desire to marry Marua to effect a complete conversion results in excommunication, sends him into native life and eventually proves his failure when the girl responds to a powerful tribesman. Admitting his error, he is still ostracized and dies, a sacrifice to his belief in love, pity and understanding. South Sea life juxtaposed against the bigotry, frenzy and suppressions of the outsiders; the questing, alive mind out of its era in its sensitive response -- these are part of a balanced tale of the flesh and the spirit. Polemically possible.

Publisher: Westminster