FOREVER THE LAND OF MEN by Willowdean C. Handy


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Mrs. Handy and her ethnologist husband visited the Marquesas in 1920 for an extended study of the natives and their customs. Her narrative is seldom dramatic but continuously colorful. The Handys took down the native language, songs, legends; calibrated a large sampling of bodies; discovered the debilitating influence of French missionaries; toured taboo haunts, and so on. Mrs. Handy had to grit her teeth and keep on open mind about polyandry and other sexual practices. Altogether they surveyed three inhabited islands in the southern archipelago. Mrs. Handy spent endless hours copying tattoos from men and women, and climaxed this activity by discovering a woman with some taboo tattoos which had been handed down secretly for centuries. One tattoo, as Mr. Handy understates, ""seemed to me to be a magical appeal for progeny""--at which point one wishes that Margaret Mead had been along. Today these natives exist ""in abysmal boredom"" (i.e. 1964), too civilized to be free, the slaves of our taboos.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1965
Publisher: Dodd, Mead